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Is Blurred Vision After Cataract Surgery Normal?

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Cataract surgery can help remove the cloudy lens affecting your vision, improving your sight. If you receive this procedure, is blurry vision normal after surgery? Is blurriness nothing to worry about, or should you contact your eye doctor

Continue reading to learn more about cataracts, including if blurry vision is normal after cataract surgery. Let’s start by learning more about cataracts and cataract surgery in general. 

Cataracts & Cataract Surgery Explained 

A cataract is the clouding of your eye’s lens, an essential part of your vision. Your lens is typically clear and flexible, changing shape to help you see. This lens can become stiff, thicker, and cloudy as you age. 

Cataracts develop with time as proteins and fibers within your lens break down and clump together, causing blurry vision. A cataract can feel like you’re looking out of a foggy or frosty window. 

You may see fine when a cataract initially develops, but vision worsens with time. When cataracts significantly affect your vision, cataract surgery is usually the only way to restore your sight. 

Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is a procedure for replacing your clouded lens with an artificial lens, providing clearer vision. Your doctor makes a small incision in the front of the eye to access the lens, using specialized instruments to break the lens apart and easily remove it. Your doctor then inserts your artificial lens, improving your vision. 

Is Blurry Vision After Cataract Surgery Normal? 

You don’t need to panic if you have blurry vision for a few days after surgery. Blurred vision is a common reaction to cataract surgery because your eyes need time to heal and adjust to the lens your doctor implanted

Blurry vision can vary from patient to patient—some people may have blurry vision for a day, while others experience blurriness for several days. While blurry vision is normal after surgery, blurred vision for weeks is concerning. 

When Is Blurry Vision a Concern? 

Blurry vision is common after cataract surgery for a few days, but continued blurriness can mean you’re experiencing a problem. Several factors related to cataract surgery can cause blurry vision, with some being more common than others. Your doctor can help determine the cause of your blurry vision if it continues. 

Some possible cataract surgery complications include cystoid macular edema, dry eyes, inflammation, posterior capsular opacification, and retinal detachment. 

Cystoid Macular Edema

Cystoid macular edema (CME) is a potential complication of cataract surgery where the macula, the center of your retina, becomes swollen. Macular swelling causes blurry and distorted vision, making it harder to see. 

CME affects approximately 2% of patients, and this condition is treatable. Your doctor can prescribe anti-inflammatory eye drops to help resolve CME within a few months. 

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes are possible after cataract surgery for many patients. Previous research found that dry eyes can happen for several reasons

  • Disruption of the tear film during surgery
  • Fewer tears—caused by the surgeon making an incision in the eye during surgery
  • Steroid eye drop use during the surgical process 

One way to relieve dry eyes after cataract surgery is with over-the-counter eye drops called artificial tears. These eye drops are similar to natural tears and help provide temporary moisture.

Inflammation

Inflammation in the eye can happen after cataract surgery, but it is typically harmless. Any inflammation within the eye following cataract surgery is the body’s natural response to having the eye’s lens removed. This reaction causes blurry vision, but your eye doctor can prescribe medication to help.

Inflammation should resolve as you recover from surgery, and you can expect a general improvement within a few days. Speak with your doctor if inflammation continues or worsens after surgery. 

Posterior Capsular Opacification

Posterior capsular opacification (PCO) is a potential complication of cataract surgery. Sometimes called a “secondary cataract,” PCO is a cloudy film growing over the portion of the eye where your artificial lens sits. PCO can cause blurry or distorted vision. 

This condition is fairly common for patients receiving cataract surgery. Approximately 20% of patients experience PCO within 2–5 years of their procedure. However, a quick surgery known as posterior capsulotomy can help restore your vision. 

Retinal Detachment 

Retinal detachment happens when your retina pulls away from its original position in the eye. This condition causes blurry, distorted vision. While rare, retinal detachment is a risk of cataract surgery. 

Research in 2018 discovered that approximately 0.7% of patients experience retinal detachment after cataract surgery. While this number is low, patients need to be aware of this risk—retinal detachment can lead to permanent vision loss. 

Learn More About Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery can let you see clearly again, helping provide an artificial replacement for your clouded lens. You may have questions about this procedure, and your eye doctor can help. They can address any questions or concerns you may have. Contact your eye doctor if you have questions about cataract surgery or if you’re interested in this treatment.

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