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What Are the Side Effects of Cataract Surgery?

Cataract surgery is an extremely effective way to restore your vision if you’ve been struggling with cataracts. However, it can help to know what to expect from your surgery. Here’s what to know about cataract surgery so you can begin preparing and bring the right questions with you to your consultation with our expert team.

What Is Cataract Surgery?

Cataracts are caused by a buildup of protein on the natural lens of the eye. The goal of cataract surgery is to replace the cloudy lens capsule of each eye affected by cataracts with a clear artificial lens (an intraocular lens implant). The surgery is done as an outpatient procedure by an ophthalmologist. This procedure is common, quite safe, and is one of the most effective ways to treat cataracts in the long term. Your eye surgeon will only recommend cataract surgery if they are confident that you are a good candidate.

The Risks of Cataract Surgery

There are rarely any serious complications when cataract surgery is performed by an experienced ophthalmologist. However, every surgery comes with risks. Some of the risks of cataract surgery include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding in the retina
  • Swelling
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Misplaced lens implant
  • Detachment of the retina
  • Glaucoma
  • Loss of vision
  • Secondary cataract

If you have eye diseases like macular degeneration, glaucoma, retinal detachment, or other medical conditions, the risks are greater. Your ophthalmologist can evaluate if treatment for other eye conditions is necessary before you consider cataract surgery. If you are predisposed to infection, your specialist may prescribe antibiotic eyedrops that need to be administered for up to two days before the surgery.

What to Expect After Cataract Surgery

Typically, patients go home the same day as their procedure but be aware that you cannot drive yourself and will need somebody else to take you home. You should plan on resting for around one week as you recover. Bending and lifting can put a strain on the eyes, so you should not be overly active during this time.

Temporary Blurred Vision

After surgery, your sight may be a bit blurred as the process of healing begins to adjust your eyes to the new lenses. Your vision will begin to return to normal within a couple of days. With new lenses, the colors you see can seem more vivid and bright since you are no longer looking through cataracts. A clouded lens mutes colors and patients sometimes don’t realize just how much the condition affected their vision until after their surgery is completed.

Protect Your Eyes

In the first few days after surgery, itching and discomfort are normal. Try not to rub your eyes or push on them since this could cause a dislocated intraocular lens. It’s possible that your ophthalmologist may want you to wear an eye patch to protect and shield your eye after the operation. You may also need to wear a shield that will protect your eyes for several days post-op and every night during your recovery period. Light sensitivity is a common temporary side effect so it is important to wear sunglasses when outdoors.

Use Eye Drops

Eyedrops will be prescribed to avoid the risk of infection and bring down any swelling or ocular pressure you may have. Your discomfort should be gone after a few days and you should begin to see improvement in healing. If not, then be sure to see your ophthalmologist as soon as possible. It will take approximately eight weeks to be completely healed.

You will typically return to your ophthalmologist up to two days after your procedure, and again the next week. About one-month post-op, you will have another appointment to make sure you are healing properly.

Symptoms to Look Out For

If you have any of the following symptoms, you should get in contact with our office immediately:

  • Loss of vision or persisting blurry vision
  • Pain that does not go away even after using over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Redness or swelling of the eyelid and surrounding areas of the eye
  • Flashes of light or floating “spiders” in front of the eye

Schedule a Consultation

Cataract surgery is an excellent, long-term option for restoring your vision. To learn more about your options and what to expect from recovery, contact our offices by calling or filling out our online form.

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