Cataract Surgery Complications -
Late Complications after Surgery
Cataract surgery complications is not something that many people talk about. Due to the advances in technology and surgical techniques, the success rate of cataract surgery (or cataract extraction) is now very high in many centers. That means that nothing can go wrong, can it? So many people now have had successful cataract operations, and some are now talking about cataract surgery as being only a 'minor' procedure. Doesn't this mean that cataract surgery complications are a thing of the past?
No, it does not. Cataract surgery complications still can, and do, happen even in the most experienced of surgical hands!
(Image adapted from the internet)
Cataract surgery is the removal of the cataract and its replacement with a lens implant.
But don't worry. It is common to have some discomfort, grittiness, sensation of something in the eye, and blood on the surface of the eye after surgery. More serious complications are uncommon and occur in only around 3% of cases. The great majority of problems are mild and will clear up over a few days to a few weeks without treatment, or are easily treated without long term consequences. Occasionally, a second operation will be needed to fix problems from the cataract operation. Severe cataract surgery complications resulting in blindness are very rare (less than 0.1%).
Cataract surgery complications can occur during surgery itself, within a few days/weeks of surgery, or months after surgery. Often, these complications occur not because of anything you have or have not done. If at any point, you are concerned that you may have developed any cataract surgery complications, consult your ophthalmologist without delay. It is better to be safe and get your eye examined. Your ophthalmologist would also prefer the reassurance that your eye has not run into any problems, so please do not worry about 'wasting' your ophthalmologist's time.
LATE CATARACT SURGERY COMPLICATIONS
Cloudy lens capsule (posterior capsular opacification): The capsule is the thin membrane that forms a bag that supports the lens inside your eye. During surgery, your cataract is removed from the capsule, and a synthetic intraocular lens implant is inserted into the capsule in place of the cataract. Posterior capsular opacification occurs when this thin membrane becomes cloudy. Approximately 20% experience this, although newer intraocular lens implants may be able to reduce its occurrence.
(Image adapted from the internet)
Posterior capsular opacification causes the thin capsule membrane behind the intraocular lens implant to become cloudy. This affects the passage of light rays through the lens implant, and results in mistiness and blurriness of the vision.
How do you know when you have posterior capsular opacification? Simple. You find that your vision gradually becomes misty again, almost similar to what it was previously before your cataract operation. Posterior capsular opacification does not go away by itself. However, it is easily treated with laser and takes no more than 5 minutes. This YAG laser posterior capsulotomy effectively 'punches' a hole through the cloudy capsule; this allows light to pass freely into your eye and thus enables you to see clearly again. This laser procedure is quick, safe. effective, and can be done in the consulting rooms.
(Image adapted from the internet)
Fortunately, posterior capsular opacification is easily treated with YAG laser posterior capsulotomy. The laser creates a central opening in the middle of the cloudy membrane.
Intraocular lens dislocation: Usually, the stability of the implanted intraocular lens in the eye is lifelong. There is no requirement to remove or to replace the intraocular lens unless specifically indicated. However, in rare occasions, the capsular bag stability may weaken, resulting in intraocular lens subluxation (part of the lens is still in the correct location) or dislocation (entire intraocular lens is no longer in the correct position). The risk of this happening is higher in eyes with complicated surgery, prior eye trauma and preexisting eye conditions such as pseudoexfoliation. Treatment depends on how much the intraocular lens has moved, how much vision is affected and whether there is damage to other ocular tissues. If there is mild subluxation and you are still able to see reasonably clearly, then there is no need to intervene. If the entire intraocular lens is dislocated, you will generally need surgery to remove the displaced lens and to replace it with a new one.
Retinal detachment: The retina is the innermost layer of the eye, and it functions to convert light into biochemical signals which are then transmitted to the brain. Retinal detachment occurs when the retina peels away from the wall of the eye. 0.5% of patients experience this after cataract extraction. It is more common in cataract operations that have experienced complications during surgery. Retinal detachment will cause blindness if the retina is not put back in place in a timely manner.
(Image adapted from the internet)
In this patient, the upper part of the retina is detached, resulting in the appearance of a shadow or curtain effect at the bottom half of visual field.
How do you know you have a retinal detachment? There are 3 main symptoms to look for: flashing lights, floaters, and a shadow or curtain obscuring your field of vision. If you notice any of these, please consult your ophthalmologist without delay. Retinal detachments can only be treated with retinal detachment surgery. In the case of retinal detachment following cataract surgery, the surgery will most likely be a vitrectomy combined with laser and oil or gas injection.
Learn more about complications during cataract surgery here
Learn more about early cataract surgery complications here
Have A Story About Your Eye Surgery?
Have you recently had eye surgery? Was it how you thought it would be, or was it totally not what you expected? Why not share your experience of surgery with other readers?
What Other Readers Have Shared
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
Sinus headache, facial pain, from Ilevro Not rated yet
11 days after cataract surgery right eye, toric and distance correcting implant lens, vision is great. Above and below right eye only, headache, sinus …
Vaseline like floaters! Not rated yet
I have huge floaters, after lens replacement. About 10 months later, no improvement. Could this have been caused by working out too soon after surgery? …
Eye fiber Not rated yet
i had cataract surgery a couple years ago. Then I had to have laser surgery to remove a halo glare around lights. Now I've had surgery again for what they …
Eye Advice Not rated yet
I had new lenses put in 5 years ago in South Africa. Then one eye went all blurry. So the doctor from Durban fixed it up. Now it is all blurry again and …
Cornea scratched during cataract operation Not rated yet
Cornea was scratched during the cataract operation, at the time severe bruising all down the side of face to and including the neck. Problems with grittiness …
High Expectations for Clear Vision Not rated yet
I have had anterior chronic uveitis in both eyes for numerous years. Recently had cataract surgery and a limbal relaxing incision for astigmatism reduction …
Problems After Cataract Surgery Not rated yet
I had a Tecnis IOL implanted during cataract surgery 2 months ago. I now have opacity, which I have been assured can be corrected. My main problem is …
Secondary lens implant surgery Not rated yet
I am 48 yrs old and 1 week ago had secondary lens implant surgery due to cataract surgery (with no implant) at age 13. I was born with uveitis and due …
Clear lens extraction Not rated yet
2 months ago I had clear lens extraction (CLE) done on both of my eyes. Before CLE I had -10.00 vision. After CLE, I noticed that my vision was still blurred …
My recent sight-restoring surgery Not rated yet
I have had both right and left eye cataracts removed within the last few months. The surgery went well in both cases, the first one being done with a local …
Suzanne Nagasaka Not rated yet
I had surgery in November 2012 to remove cataract and put in a multifocal lens. The surgery went well and my vision long distance is good, but recently …
Bubble in the eye Not rated yet
I had cataract surgery 5 months ago and still have a bubble in my eye that causes constant blurring. The doctor says that part of the implant is above …
Pennpaws Not rated yet
I recently had a cataract removed and a toric implant for an astigmatism put in. I experienced a lot of pain during the procedure off and on. I believe …
My recent IOL replacement Not rated yet
I have recently had one eye operated and had a replacement lens fitted. At first I was very pleased with the results as my vision for reading and working …
Sometimes things do not go right Not rated yet
In January 2011 I had a retinal detachment of the right eye. It occurred on the 4th of that month and by the 6th, I was in hospital for the first of four …
Totally not what I expected Not rated yet
I had cataract removal 1 year ago. In both eyes, lenses were implanted. I had nothing but trouble from pain, extremely blurred vision, and flashing in …
Aug 2011 Cataract Surgery Not rated yet
The first few weeks of recovery was great. Then the vision was worse than before the cataract was removed. The doctor had never prescribed antibiotics; …
Don't Wait Too Long for Cataract Surgery Not rated yet
I almost waited too long to see my opthalmologist. The cataract was hard and calcified and thick. The doctors words were that it was the mother of all …
Cataract Surgery Complications Not rated yet
In December of 2010 I had my right eye lens removed and replaced with a Restore multifocal lens. In March 2011, I had the left eye's lens replaced with …
Click here to write your own.
Return to: Cataract Surgery
Return to: Vision & Eye Health