What are potential complications and side effects of cataract surgery?
While cataract surgery is one of the safest procedures available with a high rate of success, rare complications such as infection (endophthalmitis) or bleeding 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 (glaucoma), 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 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 preexisting macular degeneration, optic nerve damage or floaters, these will not be made better by cataract surgery.
Frequently, 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 (posterior capsulotomy). This procedure takes only a few minutes in the office, and vision usually improves immediately.