Before we discuss the possible complications that could happen with cataract surgery, it’s important to stress that the possibility of serious complications developing as a result of cataract surgery is very low. In fact, fewer than 5 out of 100 people have complications from cataract surgery that could threaten their sight or require further surgery. The majority of common complications are often easy to treat and don’t have a lasting effect on your vision.
As with any surgery, your overall health is an important factor in cataract surgery success. Additionally, the risks of complications are greater in people who currently have eye conditions, such as diabetic retinopathy, uveitis (an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye called the uvea) and very significant near-sightedness.
The most common problem that can occur after cataract surgery is a condition called posterior capsule opacification (PCO) or secondary cataract. PCO occurs in approximately 35% of patients nationally, about 19% in Dr. Allen Zieker’s practice because he utilizes special techniques to decrease the opacification.
PCO occurs when there is a thickening of the back (posterior) of the lens capsule which holds your artificial lens in place. This thickening of the capsule causes your vision to become cloudy. If it is going to happen, it usually comes about within one to six years after cataract surgery.
If you do develop PCO and have cloudy vision, it’s typically corrected with a 5-minute laser eye procedure, after your eye is dilated, where the cloudy part of the lens capsule will be opened, leaving the surrounding capsule to hold the artificial lens in place.
Other Cataract Surgery Complications
Other eye complications during cataract surgery which occur in LESS THAN 2% of surgeries and usually can be adjusted with time or an additional procedure, but can include:
During the surgical procedure:
- Failure to take out all of the cataract
- Bleeding inside the eye
- A small portion of cataract falling onto the back of the eye
- Tearing of the lens capsule
- Injury to other parts of the eye
After cataract surgery:
- Swelling and redness (inflammation) in the eye, including the retina and/or cornea
- Issues with glare can occur from 5-20%
Very rare issues with cataract surgery:
- Retinal detachment – a very uncommon complication where the retina becomes detached from the inner wall of the eye (less than 1%)
- Infection in the eye (less than 1/2000)
- Dislocated intraocular lens
- Glaucoma (very rare and treatable)
Choose your cataract surgeon carefully
The most important factor in your cataract surgery is your choice of cataract surgeon. The more experience your cataract surgeon has, the less likely you are to have complications due to surgery.
Before you decide on a cataract surgeon, schedule a cataract consultation. Be sure to ask how many cataract procedures they perform annually, discuss their qualifications and make sure that they have experience implanting ALL TYPES of intraocular lenses, so you can select the best IOL for YOU. You need to find a cataract surgeon with that you feel comfortable with and can trust with your vision.
ABOUT ALLEN W. ZIEKER, M.D.
Dr. Allen Zieker has been in practice as an ophthalmologist for more than 33 years. Working with cataract patients is his passion; in fact, last year alone he performed more than 1,500 cataract surgeries. During his career, he has completed well over 5,000 laser procedures and several thousand astigmatic surgeries.
Dr. Allen Zieker was a partner of the former Troy Eye Associates and a founding member of Albany-Troy Cataract and Laser Associates. Expansion into communities surrounding Albany and Troy led to the renaming of the practice to Ophthalmic Consultants of the Capital Region. The goal of the expansion is to better serve patients from all the areas of the Capital District. Dr. Allen Zieker is the president of the practice and director of cataract surgery. Dr. Allen Zieker serves as the medical director at the Albany Regional Eye Surgery Center.
About Ophthalmic Consultants of the Capital Region
Ophthalmic Consultants of the Capital Region offers a comprehensive model of care with experienced specialists, ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians who provide patient-centered eye care to the Albany, Clifton Park, Schenectady, Schodack, and Troy, New York areas.