Cataract surgery involves the removal of the natural lens of the eye that has developed an opacification. This opacification in the lens is known as the cataract and the cataract causes impairment or loss of sight. The development of the cataract happens gradually and is caused by metabolic changes in the crystalline lens of the eye over time. Cataracts can develop in one or both eyes of an individual, meaning that in some cases cataracts could eventually lead to total blindness. Cataracts can be completely cured by a surgical procedure.
There are two main surgical procedures that can be used to treat it:
- phacoemulsification (phaco)
- extracapsular cataract extraction [ECCE]
In most surgeries an intraocular lens is inserted to replace the lens with the cataract enable the patient to regain their vision. These procedures have their risks as they are highly invasive surgeries that involve a very delicate organ. There are some common concerns involved with these types of surgery as there are complications that may occur, mostly after the surgery.
The Complications and Risks of Cataract Surgery
This is a serious infection that occurs that occurs inside the eye after cataract surgery. It is also known as intraocular infection and is quite rare as it occurs in about one out of every 3000 cases. During and after the surgery a lot of precautions are taken in order to prevent infection of the eye. Moreover, the surgeon usually prescribes topical antibiotic eye drops but the still a small chance that the infection may occur. This infection usually occurs in the first week after surgery and it is characterized by: pain, excessive eye redness, worsening of vision, light sensitivity and yellow or green discharge from the eye. In the case, these symptoms develop in a cataract patient after the surgery; they should seek medical attention immediately. Endophthalmitis is treated by the injection of into the eye or by an eye surgery plus an antibiotic injection. Treatment helps prevent damage to the eye but in some cases the eye and your vision can be permanently damaged by the intraocular infection.
This complication usually occurs when the retina develops a hole or a tear after the surgery and subsequently detaches from the wall of the eye. This in turn may bring about a curtain across part or all your vision. The chances of developing this condition after the surgery may be 1 in every 3000 operations. The chances of developing the condition are quite small, but this condition may cause permanent loss of vision. This condition can also be treated if it is diagnosed early by thermal laser photocoagulation.
Cystoid Macular Edema
The centre of the retina is called the macula that is responsible for central vision. In some cases after the surgery, inflammation inside the eye may cause retina blood vessels to leak fluids which accumulate in the macula, causing impaired or decreased central vision and swelling of the eye. When vision is obscured by this condition, the ophthalmologist may recommend a specialized test in order to determine the extent of swelling. This complication is treated by the administration of topical steroid eye drops or non-steroidal anti-flammatory eye drops which minimize or eliminate the inflammation.
In very rare cases during the surgery, acute bleeding may start to occur in the choroid. The choroid is the pattern of blood vessels underlying and nourishing the retina. This complication is mostly common in elderly cataract patient but is very unpredictable. This condition is quite unpredictable as it can be controlled and the patient recovers well from both the cataract and the bleeding, but the patient can also substantially lose their vision.
Posterior Dislocated Lens Material
This is the case where the lens material can fall into the back cavity of the eye which may cause inflammation of the eye. Small pieces of these posterior dislocated lens material may not have an effect on the eye. However, if larger pieces are dislocated the patient may feel pain due to inflammation. This condition can be treated by a second surgery known as the vitrectomy, which is done to remove the dislocated lens material.
Cataract surgery may have a lot risks but the chances of this complications occurring is very rare. The surgery procedures used in removing cataracts are very widely done and are becoming safer by the day. These risks should not deter you from finding a way to regain your vision.