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Cataract surgery may be one of the simplest and most common surgeries in the country, but it is still surgery – which means there are a certain number of side effects you can expect. Some of these side effects are largely harmless and happen to everyone, while others are rare and much more serious. Here are several of the possibilities following your surgery.

Discomfort and Inflammation

Even in the mildest surgeries, you should expect discomfort and inflammation, especially as the eye heals. This is the most common side effect, and the least dangerous. The discomfort and swelling should diminish within a few days – it’s simply the body’s reaction to the stress involved in the surgery. If discomfort or inflammation appears to be increasing instead of decreasing, this is a serious warning sign and requires a doctor’s attention quickly.

Vision Issues

Vision issues are also very common as your eye heals and your brain gets used to seeing the world without cataracts. Such problems may be more common if you have a one-eye surgery instead of getting both eyes treated at once. Most vision problems involve seeing double or triple, or having blurry vision. These side effects tend to be very short term, and should see great improvement after only a couple days, eventually resolving.


If discomfort and inflammation are growing instead of decreasing, this is a warning sign that your eye may be infected. While rare in today’s carefully sterilized medical world, infections can still happen and must be treated immediately to avoid damage to your eye or even more serious side effects.

Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment occurs when the retina tears and pulls away from where it is supposed to be. This is a more common side effect in cataract surgery (as opposed to other eye surgeries) and among older patients. Bandaging and leaving the eye alone – no scratching, etc. – can help prevent retinal detachment. This detachment needs to be treated immediately, otherwise the eye is in serious danger of permanent damage.

Corrective Glasses

In the first days of cataract surgery patients often had to wear corrective glasses afterward because their vision would be distorted (albeit clearer). Today’s surgeries are much more precise and can usually avoid any shortsightedness or other problems that require glasses. If you didn’t need glasses before surgery, you probably won’t need them afterward. However, it is still a possibility.

Secondary Cataracts

Secondary cataracts form when the lens capsule left in the eye begins to become opaque and creates a second cataract. This is not guaranteed to happen – only around a fourth of patients experience this – but it is possible, especially with progressive cataract issues.