Can You Play Pickleball After Cataract Surgery?

Can You Play Pickleball After Cataract Surgery?

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Pickleball is a fun sport that combines parts of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. It is played with a paddle and a plastic ball on a badminton-sized court. Many people enjoy playing pickleball for exercise and recreation. But what if you just had cataract surgery? Is it safe to play pickleball again after cataract surgery?

The Short Answer

You can play pickleball after cataract surgery, but you need to wait for some time first. How long you should wait depends on what your eye doctor says. Most doctors say to wait at least 1 week before doing any exercise. After 1 week, you can start light exercise like walking. But you need to wait longer before playing pickleball again. Talk to your doctor to find out when it’s safe to return to pickleball.

Why You Need to Wait After Cataract Surgery?

Cataract surgery is done to remove a cloudy lens from your eye. The cloudy lens is replaced with a clear artificial lens. This surgery improves your vision. But it takes some time to heal after cataract surgery.

Your eye will be sore and tender for the first few days after surgery. Any type of exercise can put strain on your eyes during this time. So doctors recommend waiting at least 1 week before doing any exercise. This gives your eye time to start healing properly.

Bending over can also put pressure on your eye after surgery. Pickleball requires frequent bending to pick up balls and reach low shots. So you need to wait longer than 1 week before playing pickleball again.

When Can You Return to Pickleball After Cataract Surgery?

Here are some general timelines for returning to exercise and pickleball after cataract surgery:

  • 1 week after surgery: You can start light exercise like walking and stretching. Avoid any strenuous activity. Do not bend over or strain your eyes.
  • 2 weeks after surgery: You can start moderate exercise like swimming or stationary biking. Avoid any heavy lifting or bending over.
  • 4 weeks after surgery: You can return to most exercises, including faster walking and strength training with light weights. But avoid any heavy lifting that strains your eyes.
  • 6-8 weeks after surgery: You can likely return to playing pickleball. But check with your doctor first. Make sure to start slowly and stop if you have any eye pain or discomfort. Warm up properly before playing and use eye protection.

These timelines serve as general guidelines. But your specific recovery schedule depends on factors like:

  • How quickly your eye heals after surgery
  • Your age and overall health
  • The type of cataract surgery you had
  • Any other eye conditions you have

So be sure to discuss with your ophthalmologist when it is safe for you to return to pickleball. Follow their recommendations carefully for a full recovery.

Tips for Returning to Pickleball After Cataract Surgery

When your doctor gives the all-clear, ease back into pickleball gradually. Here are some tips:

Start Slowly

  • Begin with short sessions of 10-15 minutes at 50% intensity
  • Slowly increase the time and intensity over several weeks
  • Stop if you feel any pain, blurred vision, or irritation

Warm Up and Stretch

  • Warm up properly before playing to avoid injury
  • Do eye stretches and movements to lubricate your eyes

Use Protective Eyewear

  • Wear sports goggles or other eye protection when playing
  • Make sure they fit properly and shield your eyes

Listen to Your Body

  • Stop playing if you have any eye discomfort
  • Don’t overdo it too soon after surgery
  • Give your eyes frequent rest breaks

Keep Your Eyes Lubricated

  • Use preservative-free eye drops regularly to avoid dry eye
  • Apply drops before, during, and after playing pickleball

Check in With Your Doctor

  • Ask your ophthalmologist when it’s safe to return
  • Report any concerns or issues you have while playing
  • Get your eyes examined regularly after surgery

Following your doctor’s orders and easing back into exercise is key for a healthy recovery after cataract surgery. With time and patience, you can safely return to enjoying all the perks of pickleball again.

What Are Cataracts?

A cataract is a cloudy area that develops on the lens of your eye. The lens is located behind the colored part of your eye called the iris. It helps focus light onto your retina so you can see clearly.

As you age, the lens can become cloudy and hard. This cloudy area blocks light from properly reaching your retina. As a result, your vision becomes blurry, hazy, or dim. Colors may also look faded. This cloudy lens is called a cataract.

Cataracts usually form slowly over many years. At first they may cause minor vision problems. But over time cataracts can grow larger and make it very difficult to see.

What Causes Cataracts?

There are a few different factors that can lead to cataract formation. Common causes include:

  • Aging: Cataracts typically develop as a natural part of getting older. Around half of people have cataracts by age 80.
  • UV exposure: Too much sun exposure without proper eye protection can raise cataract risk.
  • Genetics: Some genetic disorders like Down syndrome increase the chance of developing cataracts.
  • Diabetes: High blood sugar from diabetes can lead to cataract formation.
  • Smoking: Smoking significantly increases risk of cataracts.
  • Eye injury: Any injury or inflammation in the eye may cause cataracts to form.

Cataract Surgery

If cataracts are causing major vision problems, the standard treatment is surgery. Cataract surgery is one of the most common and successful surgeries done today.

During cataract surgery, your cloudy natural lens is removed from your eye. It is replaced with a clear artificial lens called an intraocular lens implant. This implant restores clear vision.

The surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis. It takes less than an hour and is typically painless. Most people return home the same day as their surgery.

Over 90% of people who get cataract surgery have better vision afterward. After healing, you can return to normal everyday activities like reading, driving, exercise, work, and more without vision problems from cataracts.


Cataract surgery significantly improves vision by removing the cloudy lens causing blurry sight. But your eyes need time to heal after this procedure. Most doctors recommend waiting about 1 week before returning to light exercise. More intense activities like pickleball require a longer recovery time of around 6-8 weeks. Always get clearance from your ophthalmologist before playing sports after cataract surgery. When given the go-ahead, start back slowly and take precautions to protect your eyes. With patience, you can safely enjoy pickleball again after recovering from cataract surgery.

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