When patients are planning to get their cataract surgeries, by far the commonest question we are being asked by the patients is, “What are the side effects of cataract surgery?”
What happens in cataract surgery?
A cataract is when the natural lens in the eye opaque due to increasing age. It’s like a curtain forming in front of your eyes. This obviously, leads to a decrease in vision and as the cataract slowly advances, the patient’s vision gets impacted badly.
During surgery, we make a 2mm hole in the front of the eye, so that we can insert our instruments in the eye to remove the natural lens. Through this same 2mm incision, we implant what is known as an intraocular lens or an IOL. These days IOLs are foldable which means that we can actually fold the lens and it goes into the eye through the same 2mm incision. We thus do not need to enlarge the incision in spite of the lens being bigger.
The most significant side effect
Worldwide the most dreaded complication of cataract surgery is an eye infection. It is also known as endophthalmitis. This infection can lead to blindness and thus, becomes the worst thing that can happen after cataract surgery. In fact, all the precautions that your doctor instructs you to take after surgery are only to prevent this infection. Now you know why these precautions are important.
Speaking of infections, you should also know that there are early signs of infection that you should be aware of. Pain, redness, blurry vision, pricking or excess watering are signs of infection and if you experience any of these then you should see your doctor immediately. If the doctor too feels that it’s an infection then early treatment for the same can be started and vision loss can be reduced.
Posterior capsular rent
The natural lens in the eye is a spindle-shaped structure. Like a lens would normally be. The natural lens, however, is like a bag with some material inside the bag and in total it makes a lens. In cataract surgery, we cut open the front or anterior surface of this bag and remove the material in the bag. This is how we remove the cataract. We make sure the back or the posterior surface of the bag is not torn while we remove the lens material. The reason we don’t want it to tear is that the IOL that we place inside the eye rests on this back layer of the bag. If this layer tears then it becomes difficult to place the lens in the bag.
But here is the good news. Even if this layer tears, there are lenses available that can be placed in the eye. The recovery duration after surgery may be delayed, but most of the time you would still get good vision post-surgery.
High glass power after cataract surgery
So, this is not really a side effect but let me explain. In the earlier days, cataract surgery was a procedure done to basically get rid of the cataract and improve vision. These days we perform cataract surgery to get rid of the cataract and improve vision, the only difference being we want the leave the patient glass free. We want patients to be able to see clearly without the need for glasses.