October 2, 2022 | Cataracts

Until How Long After Cataract Surgery Can You Bend Over?

By Barrett Eubanks, M.D.

Until How Long After Cataract Surgery Can You Bend Over?

You don't realize how much you bend over during the day until someone tells you not to do it. After that, you literally discover just how much of our day we spend bending over to pick up an object or to tie our shoes.

But after cataract surgery, your surgeon tells you just that: avoid bending over. But there is a very good reason, bending over can interfere with the healing after cataract surgery.

It is important to avoid bending over for the first week and sometimes the second after cataract surgery. Bending over can cause fluctuation of the pressure inside the eye. This can potentially cause the cataract incision to leak and increase the risk of infection.

Following those initial weeks, the tiny cataract incision has significantly healed up and bending over doesn't cause any significant risk anymore.

Incisions After Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is a very quick procedure. But not only is the procedure quick, cataract surgery is able to provide some pretty amazing visual results. One of the main reasons both of these are achieved is through the use of tiny micro incisions.

These incisions are less than 3 mm in length and also seal up on their own without any stitches or sutures. These incisions are created to be self-sealing.

And they are!

But that doesn't mean that they can't leak early on.

These incisions seal up with a normal eye pressure. But if the pressure deviates away from that normal range, these incisions can start to become distorted and leak. That is, until these incisions heal up fully heal up and become secured. This process takes approximately one to two weeks.

And if these incisions leak?

Serious complications with cataract surgery are very rare. And one of the most feared complication after cataract surgery is an infection. While fortunately infections are rare (it happens to less than 0.02% of all cataract surgeries), bad infections can lead to loss of vision and blindness. Prevention here is the best medicine.

Cataract surgery is done in a sterile environment using sterile technique and equipment. Betadine antiseptic is used to kill any bacteria on or around the eye. But once you go home, the eye re-enters our familiar world - which contains bacteria. Water restrictions after cataract surgery are designed to keep bacteria out of the eye. But if any bacteria make their way onto the eye, the concern is that these bacteria can also get INTO the eye through a leaky incision and cause a bad infection.

So the goal after cataract surgery is to avoid pressure fluctuations within the eye to avoid a leaky incision. Avoiding these situations until the incision heals up is the best way to prevent any unwanted outcomes, such as an infection, after cataract surgery.

This is where bending over becomes relevant

Bending over will cause the pressure inside the eye to increase. Returning upright will cause the pressure to drop back down again.

Fluctuation of pressure inside the eye!

This is what we want to avoid for the first week or two after cataract surgery until the incision heals up further. As a result, it is important to avoid bending over during the first week or two after cataract surgery.

Getting Around Bending Over

Let's face it, sometimes life presents something in front of us below the reach of our arms. In fact, it happens quite often during the day. But there are ways to get around bending over to reach that object.

  • Squats. Instead of bending over, you can lower your whole body to the level of the object by squatting down. This can be great to reach something low in a cabinet or shelf. However, squats can require a burst of physical activity. This is especially true if you don't regularly do any squat workouts. And bursts of physical activity are another thing to avoid after cataract surgery. So let's look at some other solutions.
  • Picking up objects off the floor. Instead of bending over, one great way to reach objects on the floor is by using a grabber tool (or two). This is perfect for light loose objects such as clothing or for small objects such as the remote control that fell off the couch. It can also be used for small actions such as pulling out the lower drawer on the dresser. (And I'm sure you'll find great uses for it even beyond cataract surgery)
This grabber tool tool may change your life!; Image courtesy of
  • Avoid setting things down on the floor in the first place. Pretty simple suggestion but can require some active thought in practice. When you are bringing in the groceries from the car (of course making sure the bags aren't heavy enough to cause you to strain), set the groceries down on the kitchen countertop rather than on the floor.
  • Reaching your feet. Putting on or taking off shoes or washing our feet make up a solid chunk of times we bend over during the day. But these tasks can be accomplished without bending over.
    • Instead of reaching down to tie shoelaces, its always possible to convert your shoes to simple slip-ons with modern “no tie" shoelaces. Combine this with a long shoehorn and you’re equipped to put on and take off your shoes while standing or sitting. No bending over needed.
    • Washing your feet can easily be done with a few slight adjustments. By lifting your feet up onto a shower stool or chair, you can reach and bathe your feet without bending over. Also check out Tips For Showering And Washing Hair After Cataract Surgery for more strategies bathing during the recovery after cataract surgery.


While trying to avoid bending over may seem annoying and impossible, it is for a good reason. Bending over will cause extra fluctuation of pressure inside the eye and can cause the tiny cataract incision to leak. This can increase the risk of developing an infection within the eye. Thus, it is important to avoid bending over for the first week or two after cataract surgery. A few modifications to your routine can help you achieve this goal and allow for the best recovery of your eyes and vision.

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