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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.

Return to Cataract Surgery

See what others are saying

Comment from: Hoping for Change, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: September 11

I had what was called an early cataract surgery on my right eye on March 8, 2017. There were two weeks between surgeries. After the first surgery I had horrible nausea the entire time, dizziness, inability to focus, could not drive, or work. In order to see at all I had to close the new 'good eye' put on my glasses and see out of just the 'bad eye', my left. I felt my brain was not at all functioning or integrating this surgery. I was told, 'don't worry, after the 2nd surgery it will be fine.' At first I was told there are virtually no side effects to cataract surgery. I had known many people (mostly older people) who had cataract surgery with no issues. After the 2nd surgery I was hopeful that I would have no further issues. That is unfortunately not how things have gone. It is now 6 months since the first surgery and 5 months and 2 weeks since the second surgery and I am worse. My brain fog is really bad. I have trouble concentrating and with word retrieval. The right eye seems fine. The left side of my face feels like it is weak and falling although it doesn't appear to be problematic. I feel a fullness in my entire left side of face and ear. I feel unwell virtually all of the time. The brain fog and fullness in my face have absolutely only been since the surgery. I have been told by the person who did the surgery that everything is fine, that there is nothing wrong with me. I have gone to a neurologist, had MRI to rule out stroke and brain tumor (supposedly normal), have been to healers, chiropractors, body workers, and cranial sacral practitioners, with no help for this situation. I feel this was malpractice at this point. I was not properly informed of the potential risks to this surgery, and was told I would never need glasses again, which is also not true. I have spent over USD 10K on the surgery and the follow up trying to get help to no avail. I can't find anything on the internet that shows similar symptoms.

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Comment from: darkstar, 75 or over Male (Patient) Published: August 31

I had cataract surgery on my right eye about a month ago, I can just about read without glasses and without astigmatism correction. About 3 days ago I had the left eye done, and the lens looks frosted. I can barely count fingers held at arm's length. I am looking for others with same experience to figure out the prognosis.

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Comment from: olemagic, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: August 24

I had cataract surgery 8 months ago, and I regret ever having it done. My vision is worse than ever. I have blurry and double vision and can hardly see up close at all. If you are thinking about having this surgery, think hard and do your homework. If I had known then what I know now I would have never had it done.

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