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Can You Have Dental Work After Cataract Surgery?



Dental work is not recommended for at least two weeks following cataract surgery including cleanings. [1] [2]


More Info: Several other restrictions apply following cataract surgery.  For the first 48 hours, you should not allow soap or water to get in your eyes, which means being careful when bathing and washing your hair.  The week following surgery, you should also refrain from wearing any makeup around the eye area.  Further, you should not swim for at least two weeks.

Cataract Surgery Epiphany in Dental Chair

There is actually another, much more critical connection between the modern process used for cataract surgery and time spent in the dentist’s chair. In 2004, Dr. Charles D. Kelman received a Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award for a process called phacoemulsification. It is the most commonly performed outpatient surgical procedure in the western world and involves a small incision being made into the cataract(s) area.

The idea for this process actually came to Kelman a full four decades earlier. As he recounts, he was at the dentist’s office for a teeth cleaning and while in the chair, he watched as the doctor turned on an electrical implement and applied it to his teeth. The ensuing vibration and high-pitched sound were new to Kelman, who inquired about the instrument and found out that it was an ultrasonic probe. At the very moment, he realized that a similar tool should be used for the correction of cataract problems.

Many Awards

The 2004 citation mentioned above is but one of many awards received by Kelman for his work. He was also voted “Ophthalmologist of the Century” by his peers in 1994 and received the National Medal of Technology in 1992 from President George H. Bush. All, in a sense, because of that fortuitous moment in the dentist’s chair.



[1]  Gailey Eye Clinic
Cataract and Lens Replacement Surgery

[2] Karlin, Kris MD
Cataract Surgery Instructions: Before, During, and After Your Surgery,%20During,%20and%20After%20Your%20Surgery – Patient Discussion: Cataract Surgery, Retrieved June 9, 2011 from

Nature Medicine – “How a Jolt and a Bolt in a Dentist’s Chair Revolutionized Cataract Surgery”, 2004, Retrieved June 9, 2011 from

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