Check up after cataract surgery to eliminate potential side effects

Cataract Surgery Complications

Potential risks and side effects

Before surgery there will be a medical briefing held with the surgeon and the anaesthetist

Cataract surgery is a proven and established procedure and considered to be safe and less stressful for the body. Most patients decide to undergo cataract surgery for the following reasons:

  • Improved vision
  • Increased mobility and independence
  • Relief from the fear of going blind

Like all surgeries however, it is not completely free of risks and side effects. Your ophthalmologist can explain all possible risks and decide whether you are eligible for cataract surgery.

General Risks and Complications

Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed type of surgery. Many cataract surgeons have already accomplished several thousand procedures. Choosing a well-experienced cataract surgeon may positively impact the outcome of the surgery and make you feel more comfortable.

According to a study, 95 percent of adults are satisfied with the results of their cataract surgery.

Just like any surgical procedure, potential side effects of cataract surgery may include symptoms such as pain, infection and swelling, but very few people experience serious cataract surgery complications. And if they do, most of them can be successfully helped with medication or a follow-up procedure.

To reduce the risk of complications after cataract surgery, be sure to follow the instructions your surgeon gives you and report any unusual symptoms immediately. Before surgery, there will be a medical briefing held with the surgeon and the anaesthetist.

These are some side effects that can occur right after surgery:

Doctor talking to female patient

Infections and Minor Complications

After cataract surgery, there is a risk of your eye becoming infected. If you develop an infection, you may need to take eye drops for treatment. Please see an ophthalmologist if your eye begins to swell or you experience any other undesirable effects. Other potential cataract surgery complications are minor and may include:

  • Swelling
  • Increased pressure in the eye
  • Droopy eyelid

Minor complications usually clear up with medication and more healing time. Be sure to report any change to your ophthalmologist immediately. He or she can check your eye to see how the healing process is going and if you need any medication. 

Elderly couple in a restaurant

Light Phenomena After Surgery

Some patients may experience some visual phenomena like glare or halos right after cataract surgery, especially in poor lighting conditions. Halos are bright circles that surround a light source, like headlights. Glare, on the other hand, is light that enters your eye interfering with your vision, and is more likely to appear in daytime.

This occurs, for example, when driving at night or when there’s artificial light in the dark. These phenomena typically diminish a few weeks to a few months after cataract surgery, because the brain automatically adapts to the intraocular lens and compensates for it. Most patients do not feel disturbed by the light phenomena.

Consult your ophthalmologist for a check-up if you notice light phenomena even after the healing process has finished.  

Posterior Capsule Opacification

A posterior capsule opacity (PCO) is one of the most common cataract surgery complications. It is a result of the growth and abnormal proliferation of lens epithelial cells on the capsule during cataract surgery. These cells can migrate to the posterior capsule, where they approach the visual axis, and may cause a dimness of vision. Although some people call PCO a “secondary cataract,” it is not a cataract. Once a cataract is removed, it does not come back.

Fortunately, a PCO can easily be treated with a YAG laser. Your ophthalmologist can perform this procedure in his office. It is very effective, painless and takes only a few minutes.

Most people can expect their vision to improve within a day. If you are struggling with continuous bad vision after your cataract surgery, contact your ophthalmologist to discuss the next possible steps together.