Cataract Surgery Complications - After Surgery Risks and Fails

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Aman Priya Khanna
Written by Shivani Arora, last updated on 6 March 2023| min read
Cataract Surgery Complications - After Surgery Risks and Fails

Quick Summary

  • Cataract surgery is a common procedure that can help improve vision for those with cataracts.
  • There are risks and potential complications associated with cataract surgery, but most patients have a successful outcome.
  • Some of the common complications of cataract surgery include infection, bleeding, and damage to the eye.

Cataract surgery is a commonly performed procedure that can help improve vision for those with cataracts. While the surgery is generally safe and effective, like any surgical procedure, there are risks and potential complications that patients should be aware of. Cataract surgery complications can range from minor issues to more serious and potentially sight-threatening problems.

In this blog post, we will explore some of the common cataract complications that can arise from cataract surgery. It is important to note that not all patients will experience these complications, and many will have a successful outcome from the surgery. However, being informed about the risks and potential complications can help patients make an informed decision about whether cataract surgery is the right choice for them. 

What is Cataract Surgery?

A cataract is a cloudy, hazy or opaque region in the ordinarily clear eye lens formed on our eye lenses due to unnecessary breakage of proteins. This can lead to complete vision loss if untreated. Hence, it is imperative to remove the cataract from the eye by undergoing cataract surgery.

In cataract surgery, the eye lens will be removed and replaced with a new artificial one. Even though cataract surgery is very common, and modern equipment and techniques ensure little to no side effects, there is still room for one eye surgery complication or another. 

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Cataract Surgery Complications

Modern cataract surgery is a relatively simple process, yet there are chances of complications. So, it is important to be aware of these cataract complications and report them on time to avoid developing severe issues. Here are some notable after-cataract surgery complications. These have been categorised into immediate and late complications of cataract surgery:

Immediate Cataract Complications

  1. Pain: It’s one of the common eye surgery complications. If the pain increases after the surgery, then you should contact your doctor immediately. However, it is important to note that you will feel pain in the eyes right after the procedure, so do not panic if it is there for a couple of days. 
  2. Posterior capsule rupture/vitreous loss: The posterior capsule could get ruptured because of a change in intraocular pressure and it may cause the loss of vitreous humour in the eye. It could happen during surgery and may result in poor vision. 
  3. Bleeding: Bleeding happens after cataract surgery due to other serious health problems like — diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. Suprachoroidal Haemorrhage (SCH) is a condition where vision is affected by bleeding that the patient might suffer after the surgery. This bleeding happens due to the blood filling between the space of the choroid and the sclera. The blood comes from the ciliary arteries. It needs immediate treatment.
  4. Droopy eyelid: This is a common eye problem after cataract surgery. Also known as Ptosis, this condition usually gets cured without further complications. But if it lasts for a long time (more than 6 months), then you may have to consult a doctor and go for surgery.
  5. Retinal detachment: It’s an emergency problem that might lead to complete vision loss. So you need to go to the doctor as soon as possible. Some symptoms include — seeing flashes of light, feeling like a curtain covers up your eye, etc.
  6. IOP (Increased Intraocular Pressure): This is another cataract operation risk that happens due to unnecessary storage of aqueous fluid. This fluid inside your eyes creates pressure when it exceeds the normal threshold. Usually, this pressure subsides within a few hours. If not it could result in other eye ailments like pain, optic nerve damage, corneal inflammation, etc.
  7. Iris prolapse: It could happen just after the surgery because of the trauma or laceration of the iris. It is one of the common issues in cataract surgery and should be immediately taken care of.
  8. Lens dislocation: It could occur early on because of the poor fixation of the Intra Ocular Lens (IOL) during the cataract surgery. It generally occurs from posterior pressure on the lens.
  9. Swelling of macula/macular oedema: This is one of the rarest cataract surgery complications. The centre of the retina is called the macula. The macula helps to clear and sharpen our vision. A fluid may enlarge your macula after the surgery. This is known as swelling or oedema. You have to take eye drops to reduce swelling.

Late Complications of Cataract Surgery

  1. Posterior capsule opacification (PCO) or secondary cataracts: It is the most common of the cataract surgery complications. The posterior capsule experiences secondary opacification because of the differentiation, proliferation and migration of the lens epithelial cells (LECs).
  2. Blurry vision: It is the most common cataract surgery recovery complication. The cause behind the blurry or unclear vision is eye swelling. Patients with larger or denser cataracts have the chance to undergo this problem. Ophthalmologists (eye doctors) prescribe anti-inflammatory eye drops to get over this.
  3. Allergic reaction to the steroid or antibiotic: Post-surgery, intracameral antibiotics are given. Some patients might be allergic to the antibiotics or the steroids in the medication. 
  4. Eye infection: Endophthalmitis is an eye infection that one may face as one of the late complications of cataract surgery. But it’s a rare case. These infections may occur from surgical tools, surgeon’s techniques, etc. You need to take antibiotics as per your doctor’s advice.
  5. Wound leaks: A few days after the surgery, a wound leak may appear in the eye because of inadequate closure of the wound. It could cause optic nerve oedema or choroidal effusion. Again, this calls for emergency treatment.  
  6. Toxic anterior segment syndrome: It is a severe intraocular inflammation that is generally followed by diffuse corneal oedema. This happens within 1-2 days of anterior segment surgery in cataract operations.

Minor Complications

Moderate Complications  Rare Complications
  1. Blurry vision
  2. Droopy eyelid
  3. Itchiness
  1. Eye infection
  2. Pain
  1. Bleeding
  2. Swelling of Macula
  3. Retinal detachment
  4. Increased intraocular pressure

Risk Factors Leading to Complications

There are certain conditions that can exponentially increase the risk of the cataract complications. Ensure the eye surgeon/doctor is well aware of these risk factors. Then only would they be able to recommend the necessary procedures and precautions for the eyes. These risk factors are:

  1. Increasing age
  2. Obesity
  3. Diabetes
  4. Excessive exposure to sunlight
  5. Smoking
  6. High blood pressure
  7. Previous eye injury or inflammation
  8. Previous eye surgery

Precautions to take after Cataract Surgery

Even though, with the blessing of modern medical science, cataract surgery has become easy, taking certain precautions can go a long way to eliminate possible cataract surgery complications.

Here is a list of such preventions that you can take to ensure you are not facing difficulties:

  1. Protect your eyes with a strong shield from dirt and pollutants. So, wear dark glasses after the surgery.
  2. You shouldn’t rub your eyes at any cost.
  3. Avoid harsh light sources like – flashing lights, TVs, mobiles, desktops, etc.
  4. Take extra care of your eyes during bath. Refrain from splashing water on your eyes and soapy water.
  5. Make sure to complete your antibiotics and disinfectant eye drops courses.
  6. Maintain your home clean and dust free.
  7. The most important thing is to follow the doctor’s instructions.

When to Consult the Doctor?

It is difficult to put a timeline on when one should consult a doctor. However, It is recommended to contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms after cataract surgery:

  1. Severe eye pain
  2. Significant vision loss or changes
  3. Increased eye redness or swelling
  4. Increased eye discharge
  5. Flashes of light or floaters in your vision
  6. Nausea or vomiting
  7. A fever or other signs of infection
  8. Persistent headache
  9. Blurred or distorted vision

Prompt diagnosis and treatment of any cataract surgery recovery complications that arise can help to ensure the best possible outcome and protect your vision.


The severity of cataract surgery complications is not similar for every patient. So, there is no reason to panic, and if you feel the symptoms are ‘immediate cataract complications’ after the surgery, get in touch with your doctor as soon as possible to start the treatment. Otherwise, these minor problems can result in major issues and lead to ‘late complications of cataract surgery’. Knowing the risk factors and the preventive measures associated with eye surgery complications will help you better cope with the situation in case you face any difficulty during your treatment process.

At the same time, if you need any assistance regarding your surgery or need a doctor consultation, you can contact the experts of HexaHealth for more guidance. The experts here will guide you through the process and help you find the solutions you are looking for.

Frequently Asked Questions

The most common cataract surgery complications are — pain, infection, blurry vision, droopy eyelids, etc. So, if you notice any of them, do not take them lightly and consult your eye doctor without any further delay.

The common causes of cataract complications are — tissue growth on the eye lens, breakage of protein and fibres on the lens, ageing, genetic disorders, etc. So, in case you notice any symptoms of cataracts, consult a doctor and start the treatment.

Less than 1% of cataract surgeries have complications. A recent report says that over 99% of people receive cataract surgery without complications.

The complications can be reduced by following a few simple pointers. This will include covering your eye and protecting it, taking the prescribed medicines on time, staying away from dust and bright lights, etc.

Yes, cataract surgery may fail for patients who have the worst eye condition or large cataract problems. But this is the rarest of the case in modern days as modern equipment and surgical techniques are available to provide a successful cataract surgery.

Generally, it takes about 4 to 6 weeks to recover. But the rare complications may take up to 1 year. However, cataract surgery complications in the elderly can take time to recover.

Yes, your vision can get worse due to critical cataract surgery complications. But this situation can be avoided if you consult a good doctor. Timely check-ups and treatment will ensure that it does not become severe.

There are multiple cataract surgery complications that might happen in the elderly. These should be taken care of early on. The presence of all these complications could affect the eye in the longer run. Some of these are listed below: 

  1. Endophthalmitis
  2. Retinal detachment
  3. Eye inflammation
  4. Light sensitivity
  5. Photopsia
  6. Macular oedema

Some of the risks associated with this surgery are – bleeding in the eye, blurred vision, detached retina, swelling, etc. In case you face any of these, then get in touch with your doctor as soon as possible.

The negative side effects are — dislocation of the artificial lens, glaucoma, secondary cataract, loss of vision, etc. So, in the early stages of recovery, you need to take additional care.

No, generally, the vision improves after this surgery. But sometimes, the natural capsule that holds the artificial lens becomes hazy. In that case, the eye doctor resolves the issue with a laser treatment.

Yes, cataract surgery can be redone, and it can be done with the readjustment of the lens implant procedure. But remember, the cataract never appears twice.

No, it’s not a high-risk surgery. Usually, the surgery is successfully executed most of the time, but the chances of complications are there.

A proper complication management system can prevent this. So it’s important to identify the patients’ risk and monitor them to ensure their treatment before and after the surgery. Also, an experienced surgeon should handle the complete procedure to overcome the cataract surgery complications.

There are several instructions for a patient to follow post-surgery. We have categorised them separately as dos and don’ts. Kindly check them out:


  1. Take your eye drops and medicines timely
  2. Stay in a clear and dirt-free room
  3. Use an eye shield and sunglasses
  4. Consult your doctor when required


  1. Rubbing the eyes
  2. Strenuous activities and heavy lifting
  3. Soaps and shampoos
  4. Driving your car
  5. Wearing eye make-ups

Updated on : 6 March 2023

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational and learning purposes only. It doesn't cover every medical condition and might not be relevant to your personal situation. This information isn't medical advice, isn't meant for diagnosing any condition, and shouldn't replace talking to a certified medical or healthcare professional.


Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

MBBS, DNB General Surgery, Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery, FIAGES

12 Years Experience

Dr Aman Priya Khanna is a well-known General Surgeon, Proctologist and Bariatric Surgeon currently associated with HealthFort Clinic, Health First Multispecialty Clinic in Delhi. He has 12 years of experience in General Surgery and worke...View More


Shivani Arora

Shivani Arora

BA Journalism and Mass Communication

2 Years Experience

She is an accomplished new-age professional who has interviewed prominent personalities such as Bhaichung Bhutia, G. Sathiyan, Shashi Tharoor, etc. A content writer interested in health communication, graphic desi...View More

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