Following cataract surgery, a minority of patients may experience the onset of cloudy vision. This is caused by posterior capsule opacification (PCO) and is sometimes known as a ‘secondary cataract’. PCO is one of the most common cataract surgery complications, but affects fewer than 10% of all patients and is easily treated.
It occurs when a membrane grows in the lens capsule, over the artificial intraocular lens that was inserted during cataract surgery. Posterior capsule opacification typically develops within two years of the original cataract surgery procedure.
PCO can be treated with a simple and quick procedure. Using a laser, the surgeon removes the unwanted part of the lens capsule that has grown over the lens. This is a low-risk, bladeless operation that can be completed in minutes. Eyesight should return to normal within a few days of the procedure.
Other cataract surgery complications are much more unusual. They can occur during the operation or afterwards. Most complications are not serious and can be treated or rectified with further treatment.
Possible (but rare) complications during cataract surgery include:
With a skilled surgeon, these risks are minimal. Laser assisted cataract surgery can improve success rates still further, due to its high precision and reduced risk of infection.
Sometimes, in a small minority of cases, complications can occur during recovery, or further down the line. These may include:
Risk factors for complications are: increasing age, male gender, presence of glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, brunescent/white cataract, no fundal view/vitreous opacities, pseudo-exfoliation/
If you are worried about any symptoms you are experiencing following cataract surgery, always get your eyes checked by your specialist.
Before surgery, always be sure to discuss any worries you may have about possible cataract surgery complications. Your surgeon will be able to tailor their advice to your own particular procedure, taking into account your unique medical history.