While many age-related eye conditions can irreparably damage vision, such as glaucoma or macular degeneration, cataract surgery will restore clear vision. If you can't see well because of cataracts, there's little reason not to have cataract surgery. The most common risk is infection. Avoid bathing in hot tubs and swimming for a month until your eye heals.
Other potential problems include retinal detachment and loss of vision, but again, these are rare. Complications after cataract surgery are rare and most can be treated successfully. Your eye doctor will talk with you about the risks and benefits of cataract surgery. Your vision may become cloudy or blurry weeks, months, or years after cataract surgery.
Your doctor might call this “subsequent capsular opacification” (or PCO). It is also called secondary cataract or scar tissue. It's not like a scar left on your skin. However, because it occurs after the eye has healed from cataract surgery, some people think it's a scar.
It occurs when a membrane called the back capsule becomes cloudy. It may be helpful to think of the back capsule as a transparent bag. It keeps the IOL in place. It also held the eye's natural lens (which became the cataract) in place.
If you notice blurred vision again, you may need to have a laser procedure. The laser creates an opening in the cloudy capsule and is called a posterior capsulotomy (or YAG laser capsulotomy). This procedure helps restore clear vision. Laser-assisted surgery adds an extra layer of safety and precision and is particularly useful for correcting astigmatism, aligning an astigmatism correcting lens called a toric lens, or removing a dense cataract.
When a cataract interferes with your daily activities, it may be time to talk to your eye doctor about surgery. During phacoemulsification, the most common type of cataract surgery, the tip of the ultrasound probe, which vibrates rapidly, emulsifies and helps break up the cataract, which the surgeon then sucks out (top). In most cases, waiting to have cataract surgery won't harm your eye, so you'll have time to consider your options. Insurance covers traditional cataract surgery with monofocal replacement lenses, which correct near or far vision.
Sometimes, cataract surgery doesn't improve vision because of underlying eye damage caused by other conditions, such as glaucoma or macular degeneration. Tell your doctor if you are taking any medications for prostate problems, as some of these medications may interfere with cataract surgery. Cataract surgery won't restore vision lost by other eye conditions, such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, or diabetic retinopathy. If you have cataracts in both eyes, your doctor will usually schedule the second surgery after the first eye has healed.
If possible, it may be beneficial to evaluate and treat other eye problems before making the decision to have cataract surgery. Cataracts cannot be reversed, so when they interfere with daily activities, surgery will be needed to restore vision. Cataract surgery is a procedure to remove the lens from the eye and, in most cases, replace it with an artificial lens.