the potential complications of cataract surgery

The Potential Complications of Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is among the most commonly performed surgeries in Canada. An estimated 350,000 cataract surgeries are performed annually in Canada. During the procedure, an ophthalmologist in Calgary removes the cataract and clouded lens in the patient’s eye and replaces it with a clear and artificial intraocular lens. Vision that was impaired as a result of the cataract can be restored by this surgery that occurs under local anesthesia and as an outpatient procedure — without any hospital stay.

Cataract surgery performed by experienced and specialized ophthalmologists in Calgary is common and safe. Complications are uncommon, but possible. If your vision is affected by cataracts and you are considering cataract surgery, we want you to know and understand the risks — low as they may be — of undergoing cataract procedure so that you can make fully informed decisions.

Swelling of the cornea

Some swelling of your cornea that increases in the first day following cataract surgery is the most common side effect of the procedure. During that period, your vision may seem blurrier than it did immediately after the surgery was performed. That swelling and additional blurriness resolves naturally. In cases of significant swelling, steroid eye drops or other medications may be prescribed to help resolve the symptoms.

Ocular hypertension

Patients who undergo cataract surgery commonly experience an increase in pressure in the eye called ocular hypertension. That increased pressure is common in the first 72 hours and usually temporary. Your ophthalmologist may prescribe eye drops to take one night after your surgery to help minimize any pressure increases. The ophthalmologist will check the ocular pressure during your post-operative checkup, and may recommend continuing those eye drops if pressure continues to be high.


An infection called endophthalmitis develops in less than one in one thousand (1 in 1000) cases. To prevent this eye infection from developing, patients undergoing cataract surgery receive antibiotic drops even before the procedure, then continue taking those drops after the procedure is complete. Additional protection from infection is provided by the infusion of an antibiotic solution through the incision made to remove the cataract from your eye.

Patients have an essential role to play in preventing any infection from developing. Doing so is as easy as making sure to wash your hands before touching your eyes or administering eye drops or other medication. For the same reason, it’s extremely important when administering eye drops to keep the bottle away from the eye. Do not touch the tip of the eye drop container to the eyelashes, eye, or eyelid.

Detached retina

Cataract surgery can increase the risk of experiencing a detached retina, especially if patients experience other eye problems such as high myopia. Suffering a detached retina is typically painless, and can be treated without permanent vision loss if detected early and addressed quickly. You should respond immediately to the symptoms of a detached retina following cataract surgery to minimize permanent vision loss. The symptoms of a detached retina are:  a sudden increase in “floaters” — miniscule specks that seem to float in your eyesight — and light flashes.

One large study of Alberta patients who have undergone cataract surgery found that 95 of 100 adults were satisfied with the results. The small minority who expressed dissatisfaction had other eye problems in addition to their cataracts.

Cataract surgery is safe. Complications are rare, often preventable, and routinely treatable. If you are considering surgical options for resolving your cataracts and diminished vision, contact an eye specialist in Calgary. They’ll review your medical and ophthalmological health thoroughly and describe the process of safely and quickly removing your cataracts.