Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon
St. James University Hospital, Leeds, UK

Complications management

What complications can happen?
Your surgeon will try to make your operation as safe as possible. However, complications can happen. Some of these can be serious. In general, 98% of patients undergoing cataract surgery do not experience any complications and this makes cataract surgery a very safe operation.

General complications of any operation

However, pain after cataract surgery should only be mild and is usually easily treated with simple painkillers such as paracetamol. You may feel pressure or mild discomfort.

during or after surgery. Any bleeding should be mild and your eye may be slightly red.

which can result in blurred vision or even permanent loss of vision (risk: 1 in 3,000). Most infections happen two to seven days after the operation. If your eye becomes red and painful, and your vision becomes blurred, you should let your surgeon know straightaway. You may need other procedures to control the infection.

Specific complications of the operation

Tear in the bag
which holds the lens in place (risk: 1 in 50). A tear may result in some of the jelly part of the back of the eye coming forward. If this happens it will be necessary to remove the jelly at the front of the eye at the time of surgery and, occasionally, you may need another operation. A tear may also result in some fragments of the natural lens falling to the back of the eye, which could cause inflammation. You may need another operation to remove the fragments.

Severe bleeding
inside the eye during surgery, which may cause loss of vision (risk: 1 in 10,000).

of the bag which holds the artificial lens in place (risk: 1 in 10). You might notice a gradual worsening in your vision or blurred vision a few months or years after your operation. A simple laser procedure called YAG capsulotomy can be performed to correct it.

Retinal detachment
which is the lifting off of one of the layers at the back of the eye (risk: 1 in 200 after 5 years). The risk increases if there has been a loss of some of the jelly part of the eye during surgery. If you notice that you suddenly get a lot of ‘floaters’ or flashing lights, or you think you have a shadow in your vision, let your surgeon know.

Corneal abrasion
where the surface of your eye gets scratched during the operation. This is easily treated with antibiotic eyedrops.

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