The risks of cataract surgery are well known and studied as it is one of the most common operations performed in the United States and the world. Safe and effective, most patients who have cataract removal will have improved vision. Complications from cataract surgery are rare, and when there are problems, most will be treated successfully.
According to the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery(ASCRS), 3 million Americans undergo cataract surgery each year, with an overall success rate of 98 percent or higher.
Cataract surgery risks include:
It doesn’t happen often, but there is a small chance that the blood vessels in the retina can start bleeding for no obvious reason. If it is just a little bleeding it will stop soon, but if there is a lot of blood in the eye it can result in some vision loss. Bed rest with your head up and eye drops will usually stop the bleeding. If not, surgery may be prescribed.
Blurry vision is one of the most common complaints after cataract surgery. This will almost always improve after a short time. If it continues for very long, visit your ophthalmologist promptly to ensure the recovery process is going well. Also, don’t drive until your sight is stable enough to drive safely.
- Corneal Edema (Swelling)
If your cornea has any swelling after cataract surgery it is called “Corneal Edema.” Also known as “Pseudophakic Corneal Edema” (PBK), swelling of the cornea after surgery can be treated with medication if it persists for too long. The chances of the cornea swelling as a side-effect of cataract surgery is very small nowadays.
- Intraocular Lens (IOL) Dislocation
Sometimes the Intraocular lens, the artificial lens that replaces the cloudy lens in your eye, may slip out of place causing blurriness or double vision. Bleeding and swelling can also occur in cases of severe dislocation. At that time surgery may be needed to reset the position of the lens or insert a new lens.
- Droopy Eyelid (Ptosis)
Ptosis or “droopy eyelid” is a condition when the upper eyelid droops over the eye. This sometimes occurs after a patient has had cataract surgery. The exact cause or causes of Ptosis are not known. Fortunately, lid drooping is usually short-lived.
Infections of the eye are a rare postoperative complication of cataract surgery. Early symptoms may include a decrease in vision in the affected eye, red eyes, eye pain, or swollen eyelids. If an infection does occur, an intravitreal injection of potent antibiotics may be given.
Your eye may have some swelling and redness after surgery, but it is nothing to worry about. If inflammation in your operated eye becomes prolonged, eye drops or another medication may be prescribed.
- Iris Prolapse
Iris prolapse is a condition when the iris slips out of place and is observed outside of the wound, (the small incision in the side of the cornea). Accidental post operative trauma, poor wound closure or raised intraocular pressure (IOP) can cause Iris prolapse. The doctor can reposition the iris if prolapse has happened in less than 48 hours and then close the wound.
- Light Sensitivity
After cataract surgery it is normal to be sensitive to light. If your eyes stay light sensitive for longer you should consult your doctor. It could be necessary to wear sunglasses for some time until the sensitivity subsides. Prolonged light sensitivity may be an indication of an underlying issue such as inflammation. Prescription eye drops can be used for treatment.
- Ocular Hypertension/Elevated IOP
Cataract surgery may sometimes result in raised pressure in your eye. Called “Ocular Hypertension” or “Elevated IOP (Intraocular Pressure)” it is one of the most frequent post cataract surgery complications. Normally it can be treated with eye drops, shots or pills if the IOP is too high.
- Retinal and vitreous detachment
The retina is at the back of your eye where it captures light and sends messages to your brain so you can see. There is some probability that after your surgery the retina can pull away from its original position. Referred to as retinal detachment this can be a medical emergency and should get medical attention from your ophthalmologist promptly. The sooner it is treated the higher the chances of complete recovery.
There is also the possibility of vitreous detachment after cataract surgery. The vitreous is the transparent gelatin that fills the hollow of your eye. It can become partially separated from the retina and cloud your vision. The symptoms of both vitreous detachment and retinal detachment include seeing flashes of light and spider webs moving around. Usually it improves within a few months, if not, be sure to report it to your ophthalmologist immediately and schedule an appointment for an examination.
- Toxic Anterior Segment Syndrome (TASS)
Toxic Anterior Segment Syndrome is a “sterile postoperative anterior segment inflammation following any anterior segment surgery.” Called “sterile” because the inflammation is not caused by an infection, but by a substance that enters the anterior segment of the eye (the structures in front of the vitreous.)
TASS is a very rare cataract surgery complication resulting in toxic damage to the tissues of the eye. The symptoms are corneal swelling and/or anterior segment inflammation that can be quite severe, but minimally painful. The most common complaint that patients have with TASS is blurred vision.
Who is more at risk?
The risks of cataract surgery are greater if you have other eye diseases or a serious medical condition of some kind. The existing damage from other eye conditions such as macular degeneration or glaucoma may lessen the improvement of your vision or fail entirely to help. Before making any decision to have cataract surgery, have your ophthalmologist evaluate and treat other eye diseases first.
Make an appointment today with Arizona Retinal Specialists
If you are having trouble with your vision, you could be developing cataracts. Please contact us and make an appointment now for an evaluation. Or, if you have not had a comprehensive eye exam in the past year, you should also visit our doctors, even if your eyes seem OK.
Taking care of your eyes is one of the most important things that affects your quality of life. At Arizona Retinal Specialists, you’ll find a dedicated team of doctors committed to providing the highest quality care while utilizing the latest advancements in diagnostic and medical treatments.
Call us now at 623 – 474 – 3937 (EYES), we can’t wait to see you see better!