Managing the Risks of Cataract Surgery

Has your eye doctor told you it’s time for cataract eye surgery? Some patients hold off until cataracts begin to affect their vision, then panic because they don’t know what to expect from the surgery. This article lists the risks involved and points out why the rewards far outweigh the risks. 

While all medical procedures carry some risk, cataract removal carries a low risk for most patients. Care for your eyes as directed to minimize complications after your surgery. That includes taking all prescribed antibiotics and using eye drops as directed. 

Since so many people get cataracts, our eye surgeons in Arizona remove them often. This is a routine procedure and our board-certified surgeons know what they’re doing! 

You stay awake through the surgery, but there’s no associated pain. Thanks to a local anesthetic that numbs the eye surface coupled with a mild sedative, you may find yourself quite relaxed.

Both traditional and laser cataract surgery take 15 to 20 minutes per eye. You can go home after the procedure. As an additional precaution, if you need cataract surgery in both eyes, the doctor does one eye at a time, giving the eye operated on time to heal before scheduling the second surgery. 

At Swagel Wootton Eye Institute in Chandler and Mesa, AZ, our surgeons perform traditional and laser cataract surgeries every week. In the United States, surgeons perform 3.6 million cataract surgeries every year. It’s a routine procedure that restores your vision. 

Female cataract patient, able to swim laps with clear vision after cataract surgery Woman in swimming pool, happy she can swim with clear vision after cataract surgery

Potential Side Effects of Cataract Surgery

After traditional or laser cataract surgery, your vision starts to improve in a few days. Expect some blurriness as the eye heals and adjusts to the IOL lens inserted by the doctor. Once your eye heals, colors often seem brighter through the new, clear lens. You can take over-the-counter pain relievers if you have mild discomfort following the surgery. This may include discharge, redness or scratchiness.

Although complications following cataract eye surgery seldom occur, risks include the following:

  • Inflammation
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Infection
  • Dislocation of artificial lens
  • Drooping eyelid
  • Loss of vision
  • Retinal detachment
  • Secondary cataract
  • Glaucoma

Contact our office right away if any of these symptoms occur or persist.

Smiling cataract surgery patient in exercise room, pleased with his procedure results Happy cataract surgery patient in exercise room

Cataract Surgery and Diabetes

Patients with diabetes are at greater risk when it comes to cataract surgery, as they’re more prone to macular edema (a build-up of fluid in the center of the retina). Additionally, diabetes patients may experience diabetic retinopathy, a diabetes-related eye condition caused by damage to the blood vessels. Despite these heightened risk factors, by working with an experienced eye care specialist, most diabetes patients are able to safely undergo cataract surgery.

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