Every year, an average of 333,000 people receive cataract surgery in England alone. It’s one of the most common surgical procedures to have. Thanks to modern advancements in medical technology, it’s also one of the safest surgeries eye doctors perform.
With any medical procedure, however, there are potential risks.
As a patient, you should know what risks exist to prepare yourself for sub-optimal scenarios. That’s why we put together this list of cataract surgery complications.
Common cataract surgery side effects
Some cataract surgery complications are common. We call these routine side effects. They include:
- Blurred vision
- Corneal swelling
- Increased light sensitivity
Routine side effects often occur in the days and weeks following cataract surgery. This is due to irritation caused by the procedure.
Cataract surgery recovery time can span anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Routine side effects should subside and disappear as the eye adjusts to its new lens during this time.
Extended corneal swelling or light sensitivity is rarely serious. These conditions are usually treatable with anti-inflammatory eye drops from your ophthalmologist.
Blurred vision that lasts longer than a few weeks is potentially a sign of an underlying complication. If your symptoms persist or worsen, ask your ophthalmologist about further treatment.
Sometimes cataract surgery can lead to an infection inside of the eye. We call this endophthalmitis. This occurs when bacteria enter the incision area during or after surgery.
Symptoms of infection include pain, redness, and vision issues. If caught early, we can treat it by injecting antibiotics into the affected eye.
In some cases, your eye surgeon may need to drain the fluid inside the eye. This will prevent the infection from spreading further.
Unfortunately, endophthalmitis may cause permanent vision loss even with the proper treatment. That makes it crucial to avoid infection at all costs.
Though more common in the past, infections due to cataract surgery are rare today. Only about 0.1% of patients experience endophthalmitis. You can also reduce your own risk by following your eye surgeon’s guidelines for recovery.
Retinal detachment is another serious complication of cataract surgery. The retina is the tissue along the eye’s inner wall. It detects light and sends electrical impulses to the brain. After cataract surgery, the retina may tear and become detached. This event will cue visual symptoms like floaters and flashing lights.
Like endophthalmitis, retinal detachment is rare. It affects roughly 1 out of every 3,000 patients. Despite this, you should still report possible symptoms to your ophthalmologist. Without quick surgical intervention, retinal detachment will lead to permanent vision loss.