As with any surgery, there are risks that should be considered when having cataract surgery. The good news is that these risks are very low.
For any eye surgery, including cataract surgery, risks can be considered in two ways. Firstly, there are those risks that are serious and may permanently affect the vision. Secondly, there are less serious problems that may result in delayed onset of vision improvement or only partial improvement.
Approximately 98-99% of eyes will have no complications following the surgery.
However, there does remain a small risk of serious visual loss, including the possibility that the eye may be left blind. This risk is less than 1 in every 5000 operations. There are only a few potential causes, the most serious of which are infection and retinal detachment.
Other serious problems include uncontrolled eye pressure and failure of the cornea. (In less than 1 in every million cases of cataract surgery there may be bilateral blindness from a complication in the operated eye resulting in uncontrolled inflammation in the other eye). One in 500 eyes will have a prolonged recovery sometimes requiring further surgery but then should recover well. Occasionally only partial improvement in vision may occur. Less serious complications occur in approximately 1 in every 100 cases and may include excessive inflammation, corneal or retinal swelling and medication side effects. Generally these problems resolve rapidly without any permanent effects.
Despite these risks, 98 – 99% of operations produce excellent results very quickly. The surgeon will inform you if there are any additional or specific risks for your eye(s) at your consultation.
After Cataract Surgery
- The rate of recovery varies for each person but as a general rule, vision improves over a 24 to 72 hour period.
- Vision should be significantly improved after cataract surgery. However, thin spectacles may be needed to correct any astigmatism or residual vision error.
- Each intraocular lens is carefully calculated for the individual with an emphasis on quality distance vision. Reading spectacles are generally needed after surgery.
In some cases, a laser capsulotomy (YAG) may be needed some months to years after cataract surgery. This is a minor laser treatment that may be performed if the capsule encasing the artificial lens becomes cloudy and affects your vision. A small laser hole can be made in the capsule to restore the sight back to that seen soon after the initial surgery. This is a fast, painless and permanent procedure.