Possible Complications from Cataract Surgery

Less than 5% of patients experience complications from cataract surgery, but you should discuss possible problems with your doctor. Here are three areas of complications:



Problems During Surgery

Problems during surgery, called operative complications, such as severe bleeding, happen to less than 1% of patients. Up to 2% of patients lose the gel-like substance that fills the inside of the eye (vitreous humor) during surgery. Complication rates may be higher if you have certain medical or ocular diseases.

Problems Soon After Surgery

Problems soon after surgery, called early post-operative complications, can include leaking from the wound, bleeding or infections.

Problems After Healing

Problems after healing, called late post-operative complications, include retinal detachment (this requires surgery to correct but happens in about one out of every 100 patients), swelling of the cornea, or swelling of the retina (called cystoid macular edema). Infection is a rare complication. This happens in fewer than one in every 1,000 patients, but it may cause severe vision loss.

Sometimes after the extracapsular or phacoemulsification procedure, the capsular bag that remains in your eye can become cloudy. This is called an after cataract or posterior capsular opacification. If this happens, your doctor may suggest laser surgery to make a tiny hole through the cloudy lens capsule. This hole will let you see clearly again.

Remember, the risk of severe problems or blindness from cataract surgery is very low. Still, it may ease your mind to talk about your concerns with your doctor before surgery.