What is cataract surgery?
cataract is a painless, cloudy area in the lens of the
eye. Cataract surgery removes the clouded lens. In order for you to see, the
lens must be replaced. It may be replaced in one of two ways:
- During the surgery, the doctor may implant an
artificial lens in the capsule that held the natural lens. Most cataract
surgery uses this option. If needed, you may also wear eyeglasses or contact
lenses after surgery.
- In a few cases, the doctor may not be able to
replace the lens. After your eye has recovered from surgery, you will be fitted
with eyeglasses or contact lenses to compensate for the removed natural
Because the surgery involves replacing the lens in your eye, have
your doctor review the advantages and disadvantages of contact lenses, glasses,
and implanted lenses.
How effective is cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery is safe and effective.
If you do not have another eye condition, such as
glaucoma or problems with your
retina, your chances of seeing better after cataract
surgery are very good.1 But you may still need reading
glasses or glasses for near vision.
Removing a cataract may also reduce your need for eyeglasses or
contact lenses by improving other eye problems such as
astigmatism. But the surgery is not done for this
What are the risks of cataract surgery?
Complications of cataract surgery are uncommon.
The most common complication after cataract surgery is clouding
of the back part of the lens covering (capsule) that remains after surgery. The
cloudiness, which may develop gradually over several months or years, affects
about 1 in 4 people within 5 years of having cataract surgery.2
If the cloudiness affects your vision, you may choose to have another
procedure (Nd:YAG posterior capsulotomy) to correct this
Overall, less than 5% of people develop a serious complication
after cataract surgery.1 The risk of blindness after
surgery is very low. Potential complications include:
- Swelling of the retina (cystoid macular
edema), which usually goes away on its own within a few weeks.
or different astigmatism, which can usually be treated with corrective lenses
and will not affect your eyesight.
- Infection of the tissues in the
eye (endophthalmitis). It affects less than 1% of people who have cataract
surgery. This serious infection can lead to blindness.
retinal detachment, and vision problems, which can be
caused by bits of the cataract that may have remained in the eye. The doctor
can do a procedure called a
vitrectomy to remove these particles and improve your
- Development of glaucoma after cataract
- Retinal detachment. People who have had cataract surgery
are at increased risk for retinal detachment.
Some of these complications can be successfully treated with an
additional procedure or surgery. But even with treatment, these complications
may leave you with poor vision or blindness in the affected eye. In some cases,
the treatment itself may also cause further complications.
Your vision may be cloudy for up to 3 months after cataract
surgery. This is normal and will go away as your eye heals.
What are the risks of not having cataract surgery?
If you choose not to have cataract surgery, the cataract and its
effect on your vision will most likely continue to slowly get worse. This may
affect your ability to do your everyday activities and drive safely, especially
at night. Vision problems may lead to falls, accidents, and injuries.
Cataract surgery may have a slightly higher risk of complications
if the cataract is severe. In the United States and in other countries where
advanced surgical techniques are available, cataracts rarely cause
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