Causes of blurred vision after cataract surgery
Cataract is clouding of the natural lens. Cataract is treated with surgery. Cataract surgery involves removing the natural cloudy lens and implanting an artificial lens. Cataract surgery is a very common procedure. Cataract surgery success rate is very high, and vision recovery is within a few days. Cataract surgery goes smoothly for most people; however, some people may experience cataract surgery complications during and after the procedure, which can result in blurry vision, pain, redness, glare and headache. Post-cataract surgery complications can be mild or severe, which may last for few days or months. Cataract surgery recovery time depends on the severity of the complications.
The following are the 10 most common reasons for blurred vision after cataract surgery.
1. Corneal Edema (Swelling of cornea)
Corneal edema after cataract surgery is very common during and after surgery. It is due to the inflammatory reaction to the surgery; cornea becomes swollen, which can cause blurry vision. With the use of post-operative anti-inflammatory eye drops, edema gradually resolves.
Color part of the eye which is called Iris, may be inflamed during and after cataract surgery. This condition known as iritis causes blurry vision, pain, redness, headache and light sensitivity. Iritis is also common after cataract surgery and resolves gradually with the use of steroid eye drops.
3. Retained Cortex/Lens fragments
Cataract surgery procedure involves replacing the cloudy natural lens with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). When removing the natural lens, some lens fragments may be left in the eye. If the fragments are in the visual axis, you may notice blurry vision, which can be removed surgically later.
Hyphema is a condition when there is an accumulation of blood in the anterior chamber (between cornea and Iris). Hyphema results from the breakage of small blood vessels in the eye from surgery. Increased eye pressure, pain, headache etc. may be the signs of hyphema complications. It usually resolves on its own in most cases.
5. Dislocation of implanted lens
Occasionally cataract lens implant or intraocular lens (IOL) is not properly placed, causing significant blurred or double vision. In this case, eye surgeons surgically reposition or exchange the lens.
6. High intraocular pressure (eye pressure)
Eye pressure may increase after cataract surgery. When performing cataract surgery, doctors inject viscoelastic material in the anterior chamber (between cornea and Iris) to maintain the normal anterior chamber structure and prevent damage to the cornea. This material can also clog the drainage system of eye fluid (acquous humor), causing the accumulation of eye fluid and increase intraocular pressure (IOP). High pressure can increase the risk of glaucoma. Once this material slowly gets drained, eye pressure starts to get back to normal.
7. Retinal Detachment
Although it is less common, vitreous gel may separate the layers of retina in the back of the eye, which may cause sudden vision loss. Eye surgeons usually perform laser or vitreo-retinal surgery to reattach the retina. Visual prognosis of retinal detachment surgery depends on the severity.
8. Cystoid macular edema (Swelling of retina)
Cystoid macular edema or CME is the most common cause of blurry vision after cataract surgery. This occurs when the area of retina responsible for clear central vision becomes inflamed. If you develop cystoid macular edema after surgery, your doctor may prescribe eye drops.
9. Posterior capsular opacification (PCO)
Posterior capsular opacification is also known as “secondary cataract”. This is one of the most common cause of post-cataract surgery blurred vision. Posterior capsule is a bag-like structure, where intraocular lens is implanted, can become cloudy and causes blurry vision. It is not cataract but you may experience symptoms like when you had cataract. In this case, an eye laser procedure known as Yag Laser Capsulotomy is applied to restore sharp vision.
Droopy eye lid or Ptosis can occur temporarily after cataract surgery which can affect your visual field. This mechanical ptosis results from anesthesia during cataract surgery. Ptosis usually resolves on its own.
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