Managing the Risks of Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective vision correction procedures available, which is why more than three million patients in the United States undergo the procedure every year. For many of these patients, cataract surgery not only alleviates their cataract symptoms, but also improves their vision and minimizes or eliminates their need to wear glasses or contact lenses.

Complications from cataract surgery are rare, but as with any procedure, there are some risks involved with the surgery. Prior to your surgery, a Swagel Wootton Eye Institute specialist will provide you with in-depth information on the procedure, including any potential risks. Our eye care experts will also give you a list of best practices to help mitigate these risks and facilitate a fast recovery.

To ensure the best possible outcomes, our surgeons use computer-assisted LenSx Cataract Lasers to make their incisions. This is a more effective, less invasive alternative to traditional surgical methods. After replacing a cataract-clouded lens, our surgeons use an intraoperative aberrometry tool to reduce any residual cataract effects. These innovative devices enhance the safety of the procedure for each and every patient.

Potential Side Effects of Cataract Surgery

The side effects associated with cataract surgery tend to be relatively minor and short term, and may include:

  • Dislocated replacement lens
  • Increased eye pressure
  • Infection
  • Development of a posterior capsule (or “after cataract”)
  • Corneal swelling, in which the outermost layer of the eye becomes inflamed
  • Fluid build-up as a result of broken blood vessels leaking into the retina

Some of these side effects can be treated with eye drops or steroids. Others will simply dissipate over time. In rare cases, an additional procedure may be necessary.

There are some side effects of cataract surgery that require immediate attention from a medical professional. If you notice a sudden burst of dark specks, spots in your vision, or flashes of light across your line of sight, contact your doctor immediately. These are signs of a retinal detachment, a serious condition that must be treated as quickly as possible. While less urgent, it’s important to contact your eye care specialist if you experience significant discomfort or your vision doesn’t appear to be improving on schedule.

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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