Potential cataract surgery complications


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

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.

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Other potential cataract surgery complications

Many cataract surgery complications stem from human error. Choosing the right ophthalmologist is key. An experienced surgeon will know how to prevent, detect, and treat side effects and complications. These can include:

  • Posterior capsule opacification (PCO), or “second cataract”
  • Intraocular lens (IOL) dislocation
  • Ptosis (droopy eyelid)
  • Ocular hypertension

Next steps toward clarity

The majority of patients never experience any major complications after undergoing cataract surgery. Yet, it’s important to understand how these complications arise. It’s also good to know what to do if you’re ever faced with one. This way you can make confident, fully-informed decisions when planning for your procedure.

Get in touch today to schedule a consultation. Here you’ll learn more about minimizing potential cataract surgery complications.

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About the expert

Mr Samer Hamada | Consultant Ophthalmologist and Corneal Surgeon

MD, MSc, DO (hons), FRCSEd, FRCOphth I am Samer Hamada, founder and consultant ophthalmic surgeon with over 20 years’ experience in ophthalmology. I am a world-renowned specialist in cornea, cataract and refractive surgery. I’m not only a leading surgeon but also the only dual fellowship trained in corneal diseases in children from reputable institutions in the UK. At Eye Clinic London I work closely with other consultant ophthalmologists, optometrists and orthoptists to achieve the best outcomes for our patients. Our main aim is to make sure our patients get the safest and best treatments available to them. We put your safety before anything else so you can rest assured that if you choose us you will be in the best and safest hands.

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