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What Are The Disadvantages Of Cataract Surgery? Shocking Facts!

This article was created after thorough research and has been improved with the assistance of AI technology. Furthermore, our dedicated editorial team has meticulously fact-checked and polished its content for accuracy and clarity.

Cataract surgery is a common procedure performed to remove the cloudy lens from the eye, which can cause blurred or distorted vision. While this surgery is generally considered safe and effective, it’s crucial to understand the potential drawbacks and risks associated with it. 

Being well-informed on the possible dangers and side effects of cataract surgery is essential to a successful result.

Key takeaways:

Cataract surgery, a widely adopted solution, aims to resolve the clouding of the eye’s lens, a condition known as cataracts, thereby enhancing vision.
While the safety and efficacy of cataract surgery are well-established, as with any surgical procedure, there are inherent risks and disadvantages.
The period of recovery post-cataract surgery may vary from one person to another, yet the majority of patients typically undergo a steady enhancement in vision over several weeks.

What Is Cataract Surgery and How Does It Work?

The normal lens of the eye is removed during cataract surgery and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). Usually, this surgery is done as an outpatient operation, so you can return home the same day.

Cataract Surgery And Its Working

During the surgery, the surgeon makes a small incision in the cornea, the clear front portion of the eye, and uses ultrasound waves or laser energy to break up and remove the cataract-affected lens. The IOL is then implanted in the same area where the natural lens was located, restoring clear vision.

Disadvantages Associated With Cataract Surgery

While cataract surgery is generally safe and effective, it’s essential to be aware of the potential disadvantages and risks associated with the procedure:


Although rare, there is a risk of developing an eye infection after cataract surgery. This can lead to complications such as endophthalmitis, which is an infection inside the eye that can cause vision loss or even blindness if not treated promptly. Proper precautions and strict adherence to post-operative care instructions can help minimize this risk.

🚫Posterior capsule opacification (PCO)

In some cases, the capsule that holds the IOL in place can become cloudy over time, a condition known as PCO. This can cause blurred vision, requiring an additional laser procedure called a YAG capsulotomy to clear the cloudiness. While this procedure is generally safe, it carries its own set of risks and may need to be repeated if the cloudiness returns.

🚫Retinal detachment

In rare cases, the retina can become detached from the back of the eye after cataract surgery. This serious complication requires prompt treatment, typically through surgery or laser procedures, to prevent permanent vision loss. Patients with certain pre-existing eye conditions or those who experience complications during surgery may be at a higher risk for retinal detachment.

🚫Intraocular pressure issues

Some patients may experience a temporary or permanent increase in eye pressure after cataract surgery, leading to complications such as glaucoma if left untreated. Regular monitoring and appropriate treatment, if necessary, can help manage this potential issue.

🚫Refractive errors

While cataract surgery aims to correct vision, some patients may experience residual refractive errors, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, requiring the use of glasses or contact lenses after the procedure. Discussing refractive goals and choosing the appropriate IOL type can help minimize this risk.

🚫Dry eye

Cataract surgery can disrupt the production and distribution of tears, leading to dry eye symptoms such as irritation, redness, and discomfort. This condition can be temporary or persistent and may require additional treatment with eye drops or other therapies.

🚫Light sensitivity

Some patients may experience increased sensitivity to light, glare, or halos around lights after cataract surgery, particularly at night. This can be a temporary side effect as the eye adjusts to the new IOL, but in some cases, it may persist and require specialized eyewear or other treatments.


Although uncommon, there is a risk of bleeding inside the eye during or after cataract surgery, which can lead to complications and potential vision loss. Proper surgical technique and adherence to post-operative instructions can help minimize this risk.

You should also check out: Can A Sinus Infection Cause Pink Eye? Conjunctivitis Signs & Symptoms

Is Cataract Surgery Expensive?

Cataract surgery can be expensive, especially if you don’t have adequate insurance coverage. The cost can vary depending on factors such as the type of IOL used, the surgeon’s fees, and the location of the procedure. However, Medicare and most private insurance plans typically cover a substantial portion of the costs, leaving patients responsible for copays, deductibles, and any additional fees for premium IOLs or other services not covered by insurance.

In some cases, patients may need to pay for additional procedures or treatments if complications arise, further increasing the overall cost. For example, if a YAG capsulotomy is required to address posterior capsule opacification, this may incur an additional fee. It’s essential to discuss the potential costs and insurance coverage with your healthcare provider and insurance company to understand your out-of-pocket expenses and plan accordingly.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From Cataract Surgery?

The recovery period after cataract surgery can vary from person to person, but most patients experience a gradual improvement in vision over several weeks. In the first few days after the procedure, patients may experience some discomfort, sensitivity to light, and blurred or fluctuating vision. This is normal and results from the eye’s healing process and adjustment to the new IOL.

Most patients can resume light activities within a few days, but it’s important to avoid strenuous activities, heavy lifting, or situations that could potentially lead to eye trauma during the initial recovery period. There are also certain foods that need to be avoided after cataract surgery. Typically, it takes several weeks for the eye to fully heal and adjust to the new IOL, at which point vision should stabilize, and patients can return to their normal routines.

During the recovery process, it’s crucial to follow your eye care professional’s instructions carefully, including using prescribed eye drops, attending follow-up appointments, and avoiding activities that could potentially delay healing or cause complications. In some cases, additional treatments or procedures may be required if complications arise, which could prolong the recovery time.


While cataract surgery is a common and generally safe procedure, it’s crucial to understand the potential disadvantages and risks associated with it. By weighing the benefits against the potential drawbacks, you can make an informed decision about whether cataract surgery is the right choice for you. Factors such as age, overall health, and individual circumstances should be carefully considered in consultation with your eye care professional.

It’s important to have realistic expectations about the outcome of the surgery and the recovery process. While cataract surgery can significantly improve vision for many individuals, it may not restore perfect vision for everyone, and some patients may still require the use of glasses or contact lenses for certain activities. Additionally, the potential risks and complications, although rare, should be carefully evaluated and discussed with your healthcare provider.

By understanding the disadvantages of cataract surgery and taking appropriate precautions, you can increase the likelihood of a successful outcome and minimize potential complications. Ultimately, the decision to undergo cataract surgery should be made in collaboration with your eye care professional, taking into account your individual needs, goals, and risk tolerance.


1. Who should not get cataract surgery?

Those with uncontrolled medical conditions or active eye infections.

2. How long does it take for the lens to settle after cataract surgery?

It might take 2-4 weeks.

3. Do eyes look different after cataract surgery?

Yes, they might look slightly different.

4. Can you live with cataracts without surgery?

Yes, but vision will decline over time.

5. Can I wear my old glasses after cataract surgery in one eye?

No, you’ll need an updated prescription.


WebMD (2005-2024) What to Expect From Cataract Surgery Available online at: https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/cataracts/what-to-expect-from-cataract-surgery

Harvard Health (2024) Cataract surgery: What to expect before, during and after Available online at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/cataract-surgery-what-to-expect-before-during-and-after

Michael Bennett

Dr. Michael Bennett is a board-certified ophthalmologist with over 15 years of experience performing eye surgery and treating diseases of the eye. He completed his ophthalmology residency at the prestigious Bascom Palmer Eye Institute where he served as Chief Resident.

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