Because cataract surgery is so common, it has become one of the most effective and safest surgical procedures performed in the U.S. Each eye care professional's procedure may differ slightly, but in general you can expect the following:
Safety and Risks
Modern cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective medical procedures today. More than 95 percent of the 3 million cataract surgeries performed in the U.S. each year are considered successes, meaning no complications.1
But even with such a stellar success rate, every surgery has risks, including the potential for loss of vision. These complications are very rare, and most can be addressed immediately while you are still under your eye care professional's care. The following types of risks can be associated with cataract surgery:
Tearing of the Posterior Capsule — The posterior capsule is the thin, tissue-like layer in the eye that holds your eye's lens in place. During surgery, as your clouded lens is removed from the posterior capsule, it can sometimes tear. If this happens, the surgeon will repair the tear and seal it.
Inflammation — Non-infection-related swelling is usually minor and can be treated with eye drops after surgery.
Cystoid Macular Edema — For up to three months after cataract surgery, the tissues of the macula may swell. This is the part of the retina responsible for seeing fine detail and will cause your vision to be blurred. This can be treated with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
Visual Effects — Seeing halos around lights, blurry vision and difficulty seeing at night are a few symptoms a patient sometimes experiences as the brain adjusts to a new multifocal lens.
Secondary Cataract — A secondary cataract will sometimes form after cataract surgery. These can be corrected in a quick and painless outpatient procedure.
Incision Leak — If the corneal incision begins to leak, your eye care professional may apply a bandage over your eye to decrease the chance of infection. In some cases, the incision must be closed with a stitch.
Other complications are possible. Be sure to talk to your eye care professional about all the risks associated with surgery.