Any surgery can have complications. Cataract surgery is no
exception. Fortunately, most complications are very unusual and
not serious but there are some rare complications that can
result in a further loss of vision, or even loss of the eye.
First of all, complications can occur from the injection of local
anesthesia. The most serious possible complications occur when
the needle goes into the eye itself or into the optic nerve.
Although this happens extremely rarely, it can lead to a
permanent and severe loss of some or all vision.
Another complication that can occur during the surgery is called
"loss of vitreous". As the cataract is being removed or just
after it is removed, the vitreous gel from the center cavity of
the eye can come through the opening in the pupil. If this
happens some part of the vitreous has to be removed. Usually
this is not a serious complication but it can cause problems
later. In such cases, the intraocular lens may need to be placed
in front of the iris instead of behind it.
Other, more rare complications can cause loss of vision or even
loss of the eye, including infection, bleeding into the eye,
dislocation or movement of the lens implant, glaucoma, a cloudy
cornea, swelling of the retina (called cystoid macular edema),
retinal detachment, and other problems. Fortunately, these
complications are infrequent. Vision improves in approximately
95% of all cases. Less than 5% of the cases have no improvement
or even a worsening of vision because of complications from the
surgery because the eye has another problem not related to the
In about half of the cases the back part of the capsule of the
lens eventually becomes cloudy and causes fogging or blurring of
vision. This cloudiness may occur soon after the surgery or many
years later. If the back part of the capsule becomes cloudy, YAG
laser treatment can be done to clear it. The YAG laser treatment
creates a hole in the capsule which allows light through. YAG
laser treatment requires no hospitalization, is usually painless,
and can be done in less than 15 minutes in your doctor's office
or in an outpatient treatment center. YAG laser can cause the
pressure in the eye to rise for a short time. In rare cases,
swelling of the retina or retinal detachment can occur following
YAG laser treatment. After YAG laser treatment is done you can
return to normal activities right away.