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Postsurgical cataract patients’ home self-care : behaviours, difficulties and concerns Smith, Shelagh Jacqueline


The purpose of this descriptive exploratory study was to describe specific self-care behaviours related to the provision of eye care and performance of daily living activities, of postsurgical cataract patients during their first few weeks at home following cataract extraction. The twenty subjects who comprised the study sample were all over sixty years of age, were English speaking, had a best corrected visual acuity in the unoperated eye of 20/50 or less, and had undergone uncomplicated unilateral standard cataract surgery without lens implant. Subjects were interviewed in their homes on two occasions. Difficulties that were experienced and concerns that were expressed by subjects and family members in the performance of eye care procedures, and management of daily living routines were recorded; and factors which influenced the ability of subjects to manage their care at home were identified. Observations were made of the instillation of eyedrops, the application of a protective eye shield, and the status of the operated eye. The findings suggest a high degree of adherence to the prescribed medication regime, and to the precautionary measures that were to be followed. Difficulties were reported or observed in several areas such as administering eyedrops, applying the eye shield, reading instructions, opening eyedrop containers, and obtaining prescriptions or supplies. The majority of concerns expressed were related to the performance of eye care procedures, and to the prospective visual outcome of the surgery. Examples of factors identified as affecting home self-care were: the availability of direct assistance and emotional support from family and community resources; the understanding of the surgical procedure and recovery process; the knowledge, and the timing of the receipt of knowledge, of expected behaviours; and the possession of adequate manual skills to perform the eye care procedures with competence and confidence. Implications for nursing, medical, and pharmacist's practice are discussed, and areas for further research are identified.

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