Aftercare? What Cataract Surgical Patients Should Know About Preventing Complications

Posted on: 28 April 2019

Cataracts are an increasingly common health issue in older Americans. Although many people continue to live and be able to see with mild cases of cataracts, more severe ones that cause vision impairment are usually treated with surgical procedures. 

The current surgical procedures use to remove cataracts have the advantage of being safe, with minimal recovery times, However, like any surgical procedure, complications can develop making aftercare a critical component of successful cataract removal. If you or someone you love is about to undergo cataract surgery, this information will help you understand the most common risks during the aftercare period and the treatment you are likely to be prescribed to help prevent them.


One of the most serious risks of cataract surgery during the recovery period is the risk of infection, including endophthalmitis. Cataract patients who have some other types of health issues, including diabetes, have a higher risk of experiencing infection after any eye surgery.  Additional risks for experiencing infection include bacteria levels present on the surface of the eye prior to the surgery and contamination from surgical instruments, supplies used in the treatment, and the introduction of bacteria from the environment after the procedure, such wiping the eye with a soiled finger or tissue or using contaminated eye drops. 


The introduction of less invasive surgical methods has helped to lessen inflammation during the recovery period, but it can still occur. While inflammation can strike without warning, vision care experts agree that the physical health of the patient, along with any instances of tissue trauma and the thickness of the cataract can all add to the risk of inflammation developing during the aftercare period. Left untreated or unresolved, inflammation after cataract surgery can cause pressure to build inside the eye and other issues that can lead to permanent vision loss and other serious complications. 


Single dose, sustained release cataract surgery steroids are one of the tools many surgeons use to help with the development of both infection and inflammation. Because they are administered as a single dose, the patient is not required to take steroids in the days leading up to and immediately after the surgical procedure. 

It is important to note that steroid use can have side effects, although improved formulas have significantly reduced that risk. Cataract surgical patients whose treatment will include any type of steroid, including FDA approved cataract surgery steroids will want to discuss the potential risks with their surgeon or eye care team prior to scheduling the procedure.