This Is The Food NOT To Eat After Cataract Surgery

This Is The Food NOT To Eat After Cataract Surgery

We all know that the food we eat has a large impact on our body. This can especially be the case after surgery when the body has to repair itself. Cataract surgery is no exception and there are certain foods that should be avoided to allow for the best recovery. But the recovery isn't actually the most important reason to avoid foods after cataract surgery, it is to avoid getting sick.

The most important thing you can do for your eyes after cataract surgery is to avoid food poisoning. Foods that can cause food poisoning are the real foods to avoid after cataract surgery. Anything else beyond that is just icing on the cake (which you can have!).

Why exactly food poisoning?

Food poisoning doesn't make you feel very well. But the biggest issue with food poisoning is that it can make you wretch or even vomit.

Issue With Vomiting And Cataract Surgery

There aren't a ton of situations that can interfere with the healing of the cataract incision. But vomiting is one of them.

The tiny incision made during cataract surgery seals up watertight without any sutures or stitches as long as the pressure inside the eye is normal. But if this pressure fluctuates and drops, this incision can open up and leak. If bacteria happen to be on the surface of the eye at that time, a leaky cataract incision can increase the risk of a bad infection in the eye.

So until the cataract incision heals up more where it won't open up and leak, we want to avoid fluctuation of pressure in the eye.

Strenuous activity and bending over are two activities that can lead to fluctuation of the pressure inside the eye. Strenuous activity and lifting in particular can lead to something known as the Valsalva maneuver. The Valsalva maneuver causes one to breathe out against a closed airway (think about straining to lift a heavy weight). This increases the pressure in the chest and also increases the pressure in the eyes.

Vomiting or wretching leads to the same result. Pressure builds in the chest and eyes. This pressure causes extra fluctuation of pressure and can cause the cataract surgery incision to leak.

We want to avoid vomiting as much as possible after cataract surgery.

Food Poisoning & Foods To Avoid

One way to avoid vomiting (mostly under our control) is to avoid getting food poisoning. Food poisoning causes all sorts of unpleasant symptoms: upset stomach, cramps, diarrhea; and nausea and vomiting is up there on the list.

In many cases, food poisoning can be prevented. You just simply have to avoid certain foods. These are the real foods to avoid after cataract surgery. And while it's a good idea to avoid these foods pretty much all the time, it is especially important immediately after cataract surgery.

  • Raw or undercooked chicken
  • Contaminated or unwashed vegetables or leafy greens
  • Raw or undercooked shellfish and oysters
  • Unpasteurized milk or dairy
  • Raw or undercooked eggs
  • Improperly stored deli meats

You may have noticed a pattern here. A lot of food poisoning comes from undercooked foods or foods that are contaminated. While some foods should never be eaten raw or undercooked (chicken), other foods sometimes are: raw oysters, eggs over easy. And although the risk is very small of food poisoning from those other foods, after cataract surgery isn't the time to go out to your favorite oyster bar or eat raw eggs.

It is also important to thoroughly wash all the vegetables, greens and fruit you eat. And if you decide to eat out, avoid food establishments that may have less rigorous food safety standards.

Spicy Foods

It is also worth noticing that sometimes we can eat food that doesn't agree with our stomach but technically doesn't cause food poisoning. Spicy foods fall into this category

Eating overly spicy foods can also cause you to have nausea and vomiting. For some people, the main ingredient of chili spice, capsaicin, can cause gastrointestinal distress. So best to ease up on the peppers.

Paying attention to what you eat for the first week out after cataract surgery can help prevent you from getting sick from food poisoning or spicy foods. These are the real foods not to eat after cataract surgery.

Bonus Points - Foods TO Eat

There are definite foods to avoid after cataract surgery. But are there any particular foods that help?

There really isn't anything that will make a HUGE difference in how you heal after cataract surgery, but there are foods that can help a little with healing and also make the eyes feel more comfortable. The key ingredient? Well, eating healthy.

After cataract surgery, inflammation exists on the surface of the eye. This inflammation causes the eye to dry out and feel irritable. And in general, the eye will heal a little better and quicker with less inflammation.

Over the past decade, the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids in the food we eat has been identified as a contributor to the development of inflammation on the surface of our eye and dry eye. You know what has a poor ratio? The typical Western diet.

Some popular foods in the Western diet, look familiar?

Some popular foods in the Western diet, look familiar?; image by Karolina Kołodziejczak on Unsplash

A Western diet contains high amounts of red meat, processed and fried foods, high amounts of fat, salt and sugar. It contains low amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts and seeds. Yeah. I feel unhealthy just reading the description of what we eat.

Avoiding the typical Western diet will reduce inflammation on the surface of the eye and promote faster healing after cataract surgery.

So what's pretty much the opposite of the Western diet? The Mediterranean diet is a good example. This diet includes lots of healthy foods.

  • Whole grains
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Fruits
  • Moderate Seafood, Dairy and Chicken
  • Only Occasional Red Meat and Sweets

Mediterranean diet

Mediterranean diet; image by Florencia Potter on Pexels

Unlike the Western diet, the Mediterranean diet can reduce inflammation and improve dry eye. So if you want to optimize your eyes for healing as much as possible after cataract surgery, switching to a Mediterranean diet can help your eyes; and potentially your overall health.


After cataract surgery, it is important not to eat foods that have the potential to give you food poisoning. Needing to wretch and vomit from food poisoning puts you at an increased risk of having pressure fluctuations in the eye which can lead to the wound leaking and infection. Beyond avoiding these foods, if you wanted to go the extra mile, having a diet rich and whole grains and vegetables such as a Mediterranean diet can help reduce inflammation on the surface of the eye to allow for a faster and more comfortable healing after cataract surgery.

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