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Cataract surgery

Information about the Risks Of Cataract Surgery

What are the main risks of

cataract surgery?

The vast majority of cataract operations are successful and your eyesight is improved. However, any surgery has risks and cataract surgery is no exception. The risks are rare but they can happen during or after the surgery. The majority of complications can be fixed. In a

very small number of cases complications can lead to permanent reduced vision or even complete loss of vision in that eye.

During the operation there

is a risk of:

• Posterior capsule tear

Your natural lens is contained in a delicate bag called the lens capsule. The lens implant is placed in that bag after removing the cataract. A tear can develop in the posterior capsule during surgery allowing the gel at the back of the eye to come forward. If this happens a further surgical procedure is required and this increases the time of the surgery as well as healing time. (The risk is 4 in 100)  Rarely, the tear in the capsule allows the cataract to drop at the back of the eye requiring a second surgery (usually under general anaesthesia, which means you will be asleep).  These complications can affect how good your final vision will be.

• Conversion to larger wound surgery

Cataract surgery is performed through small incisions (cuts) that require no stitches. In some rare cases, a larger incision is required and this means a few stitches. A larger incision will take several months to heal completely. 

• Bleeding inside the eye

This is a rare complication. It is a very serious problem and it can result in blindness. If you have suspected bleeding in the eye your surgery will be stopped immediately. You may have to have the surgery at a later date. (The risk of bleeding is 1 in 750 cases to 1 in 1000 cases)

After the surgery there is a risk of:

• Infection inside the eye

A serious infection can occur inside the eye following your surgery. This can lead to blindness. Treatment usually involves further surgery to give antibiotics inside the eye.  (The risk is 1 in 1000 cases)

• Wound leak

A leak of the fluid within the eye can occur if the small incision performed during your operation is not water-tight. This can be treated with a contact lens but sometimes a small operation is required to put in a stitch to seal the leak.

• Raised pressure in the eye

The pressure within the eye can rise after surgery. The symptoms are dull eye / brow pain sometimes with nausea (sickness). Treatment is in the form of drops or sometimes tablets to lower the pressure.

• Swelling of the retina

A collection of fluid at the back of the eye can cause blurring of the central vision. This is usually treated with drops and in the majority of patients the vision returns to normal.

• Clouding of the posterior capsule

This can happen months or years after your cataract surgery. Your vision becomes blurry as an opaque (cloudy) film develops behind the new lens. This can easily be treated with a laser in the clinic.

• Clouding of the cornea (clear part of the eye)

Rarely, some corneas are at risk of becoming cloudy after cataract surgery. If you are at risk, this will be discussed with you at your preoperative assessment.

If you have any other questions then please ask one of the staff or call:

0141-211-2485 during working hours.

Leaflet prepared by

Dr J LiYim & Dr C Weir

Last Updated: 06 February 2015