Cataract Surgery

  • Medical Author:
    J. Bradley Randleman, MD

    Dr. Randleman received his BA degree from Columbia University in New York City. He earned his MD degree from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, where he was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his residency training at Emory University, serving as Chief Resident in his final year. He then completed a fellowship in Cornea/External disease and refractive surgery at Emory University.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Cataracts Pictures Slideshow

Quick GuideCataracts Causes, Symptoms, Vision Tests and Surgery

Cataracts Causes, Symptoms, Vision Tests and Surgery

What should one expect after the cataract surgery?

Following surgery, you will need to return for visits within the first few days and again within the first few weeks after surgery. During this time period, you will be using several eyedrops which help protect against infection and inflammation. Within several days, most people notice that their vision is improving and that they are able to return to work. During the several office visits that follow, your doctor will monitor for complications. Once vision has stabilized, your doctor will fit you with glasses if needed. The type of intraocular lens you have implanted will determine to some extent the type of glasses required for optimal vision.

What are potential complications of cataract surgery?

While cataract surgery is one of the safest procedures available with a high rate of success, rare complications can arise. Your ophthalmologist will discuss the specific potential complications of the procedures that are unique to your eye prior to having you sign a consent form. The most common difficulties arising after surgery are persistent inflammation, changes in eye pressure, infection, or swelling of the retina at the back of the eye (cystoid macular edema), and retinal detachment. If the delicate bag the lens sits in is injured, then the artificial lens may need to be placed in a different location. In some cases, the intraocular lens moves or does not function properly and may need to be repositioned, exchanged, or removed. All of these complications are rare but can lead to significant visual loss; thus, close follow-up is required after surgery. If you have pre-existing macular degeneration or floaters, these will not be made better by cataract surgery.

In some cases, within months to years after surgery, the thin lens capsule may become cloudy, causing blurred vision after cataract surgery. You may have the sensation that the cataract is returning because your vision is becoming blurry again. This process is termed posterior capsular opacification, or a "secondary cataract." To restore vision, a laser is used in the office to painlessly create a hole in the cloudy bag. This procedure takes only a few minutes in the office, and vision usually improves rapidly.

Medically reviewed by William Baer, MD; Board Certified Ophthalmology

REFERENCE:

United States. National Eye Institute. "Facts About Cataract." Sept. 1, 2009. <http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/cataract/cataract_facts.asp>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/7/2015
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