Oculase Articles

What are the risks of cataract surgery?

Mr Tariq Ayoub - 15 Apr 2022

Every surgery carries a degree of risk though cataract surgery is quite a safe procedure. At Oculase, we have methods of preventing these risks and possible side effects. Keep reading to learn about the risks of cataract surgery.

 

Types of cataract surgery

We use cataract surgery, also known as lens replacement surgery, to treat cataracts. Over time, the need for cataract surgery has increased.

The type of cataract surgery you’ll need will depend on how severe your cataracts are and whether you have any other problems, such as refractive errors

The cataract surgery options at Oculase are:

We also offer YAG laser capsulotomy if you experience posterior capsular opacification (PCO) after cataract surgery.

 

Complications of cataract surgery

It’s natural to be worried about the possible side effects and risks of cataract surgery if you are due to have it. Below we give more detail on the risks of cataract surgery and how we counter them.

 

Pain

You might have minor discomfort and pain in the eye after surgery. Over-the-counter painkillers should sufficiently counter these symptoms. However, if the pain gets increasingly worse, speak to your ophthalmologist. Strong pain may be a sign of a serious complication.

 

Red eyes

Your eyes may be red after cataract surgery; this is a normal side effect to expect. It is usually due to inflammation after the surgery. Your eyes may also feel gritty, dry or itchy after cataract surgery which can cause watering eyes. Extreme red eye associated with severe pain and reduced vision may be a sign of a serious complication (endophthalmitis).

 

Blurry vision

You may experience blurry vision for one to two weeks after cataract surgery. Again, inflammation is usually the cause, and it should improve quickly as the swelling subsides. 

Depending on the type of cataract surgery you’ve had, you might need glasses for clear vision. We advise you have an eye test for glasses 6 weeks after the surgery.

 

Double vision or ghost images

Double vision (diplopia) is usually a temporary side effect of cataract surgery as your brain adjusts to your improved vision. You also experience a ‘ghost image’ where the second image is incomplete.

Double vision or ghost images can also be signs of a dislocated intraocular lens (IOL). Book an appointment with our ophthalmologist if you are concerned about double vision.

 

Vision loss

It is rare to experience other vision problems and vision loss after cataract surgery. Though, you are more likely to, if you have other conditions before cataract surgery. If you experience worsening vision loss, speak to us immediately so we can identify the cause.

 

Retinal detachment

A detached retina means the thin layer at the back of your eye (retina) has loosened. If you have experienced retinal detachment before, you are more likely to experience it after cataract surgery. 

Retinal detachment is an emergency. Speak to our ophthalmologist immediately if you experience flashes of light and new floating spots in your vision. These are signs of retinal detachment. We’ll need to perform another surgery to treat a detached retina.

 

Posterior capsular opacification (PCO)

Posterior capsular opacification (PCO) means a film of tissue has formed in the capsule behind your lens implant. It is sometimes called a secondary cataract. But, this is misleading as you can’t get another cataract after cataract surgery.

If you experience PCO after cataract surgery, you will need a YAG laser capsulotomy. This is a quick, painless procedure. We use a low-energy laser to allow more light through your artificial lens. This procedure takes around 5-10 minutes.

 

Endophthalmitis

There is an associated risk of endophthalmitis after cataract surgery. Endophthalmitis is a serious eye infection. 

But, it is rare after cataract surgery, and the occurrence of endophthalmitis after cataract surgery is dropping still. Less than 0.5% of people who have cataract surgery experience endophthalmitis.

To treat this, we would inject antibiotics into the infected eye, though endophthalmitis can permanently affect your vision.

Watch Mr Tariq Ayoub explain some of the risks and side effects of Cataract surgery in more detail.

 

Other risks include:

  • Glaucoma
  • Drooping eyelid
  • Glares and halos
  • Intraocular lens dislocation
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Swelling in the retina (Cystoid macular oedema)
  • Capsular contraction syndrome (extremely rare)
  • A temporary rise in eye pressure (ocular hypertension)

You may be more likely to experience a complication of cataract surgery if you have a complex cataract

 

Benefits of cataract surgery

Despite the risks of cataract surgery, many people believe the benefits outweigh these.

Benefits of cataract surgery include:

  • No more cataracts
  • Improved quality of life
  • Lower risk of falls and other injuries
  • Quick and very safe procedure
  • Improved vision
  • Less glare from bright lights
  • Easier to tell different colours apart
  • Less reliance on glasses and contact lenses
  • Better protection for your eye health

Whether you’ll need glasses after cataract surgery will depend on the type of surgery you had and other factors, such as your eye health before surgery. 

Our blog covers this in more detail: Will I need to wear glasses after cataract surgery? We also discuss the different types of lenses available and how this affects whether you’ll need glasses.

Read on to find out more about the risks of cataract surgery.

What are the risks of cataract surgery?

 

Cataract surgery recovery

How long it will take to recover from cataract surgery will depend on your situation. Our ophthalmologist will provide a better insight into your circumstances. Though, recovery tends to take around 2 to 6 weeks.

Before the surgery, we will give you guidance on what you should and shouldn’t do after to aid your healing. Read our blog to learn more about the do’s and don’t’s after cataract surgery. We will also arrange a follow-up appointment a few days after the procedure.

If left untreated, cataracts can lead to blindness or severely impair vision. The longer we leave cataracts to develop, the harder they are to remove and the longer your recovery will take.

 

Book an appointment

Do you need cataract surgery? If you need cataract surgery but are unsure where to go, visit Oculase. Read our blog to understand why you should choose Oculase for cataract surgery.

If your ophthalmologist doesn’t think you need cataract surgery for your cataracts, but you do, we also offer a second opinion service.

Our award-winning Lead Surgeon and Medical Director, Mr Tariq Ayoub, offers exceptional patient care. He tailors each treatment plan to reflect the best treatment option for you.

After a thorough consultation, Mr Ayoub will discuss your treatment options, the risks of cataract surgery and the benefits.

Book consultation

 

Resources

Boyd, K. (2021). What Is Ocular Hypertension? American Academy of Ophthalmology. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-ocular-hypertension 

Fabrykowski, M., & Garston, M. (2016, December 15). Comanaging Cataract Surgery Complications. Review of Optometry. https://www.reviewofoptometry.com/article/comanaging-cataract-surgery-complications 

Gaskin, G. L., Pershing, S., Cole, T. S., & Shah, N. H. (2016). Predictive modeling of risk factors and complications of cataract surgery. European journal of ophthalmology, 26(4), 328–337. https://doi.org/10.5301/ejo.5000706 

Hughes DS, Hill RJ. Infectious endophthalmitis after cataract surgery. Br J Ophthalmol. 1994 Mar;78(3):227-32. doi: 10.1136/bjo.78.3.227. PMID: 8148340; PMCID: PMC504743.

Keenan T, Rosen P, Yeates D, et al. (2007) Time trends and geographical variation in cataract surgery rates in England: study of surgical workload. British Journal of Ophthalmology, 91:901-904. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bjo.2006.108977

Niyadurupola, N., & Astbury, N. (2008). Endophthalmitis: controlling infection before and after cataract surgery. Community eye health, 21(65), 9–10. 

Stein J. D. (2012). Serious adverse events after cataract surgery. Current opinion in ophthalmology, 23(3), 219–225. https://doi.org/10.1097/ICU.0b013e3283524068

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