Standard UK Cataract Surgery Quoted Consent Risks
THE POTENTIAL COMPLICATIONS OF CATARACT SURGERY
Overall complications are rare (less than 5%), ranging from mild to severe:
Corneal abrasion - Where the surface of your eye gets scratched during operation. This is easily treated with antibiotic eye drops or ointment.
Ecchymosis – Bruising of eye or eyelids (quite common). Bleeding behind eyeball – rarely severe.
Allergy – Causing an itchy swollen eye (1:500). This usually settles.
Posterior capsular opacification – Clouding of the membrane behind the implant (early 1:100; late 20:100). This is treated with laser.
Post operative glaucoma – Raised pressure in the eye. This may require treatment (1:50).
Cystoid macular oedema – Poor vision due to inflammatory fluid in the centre of the retina. This is usually mild and needs no treatment. It can be severe and require prolonged treatment (1:250).
Optical aberrations – Glare and starbursts in bright light conditions.
Iris damage – Leading to an irregular pupil. This is usually optically insignificant.
Ptosis – Droopy eyelid. This can be surgically corrected.
Posterior capsule rupture and / or vitreous prolapse – A split in the thin back wall of the cataract (1:50). Requires a longer than average time to complete the surgery. At a higher risk of inflammation, glaucoma and reduced vision after surgery. May require second operation.
Refractive surprise – Unexpectedly large (or different from expected) need for glasses (1:500). May require second operation.
Double vision - May need prism or rarely surgery (1:1000).
Dropped nucleus – The cataract falls deeper in the eye, needing another operation to remove it (1:1000).
Dislocation of the lens implant – Movement out of position of the new lens. May require further surgery (1:2000).
Suprachorodial haemorrhage – Bleeding inside the eye, which may require further surgery (1:1000). Risk of blindness / loss of eye.
Corneal decompensation – Clouding of the normally clear front window of the eye (1:1000). Can be painful. May need a corneal graft operation to restore vision and / or comfort.
Detached retina – Peeling off of the light sensitive layer within the eye (1:1000). Requires further surgery to repair.
Endophthalmitis – Rare severe (usually painful) infection inside the eye, which can lead to blindness (1:1000). Treated with powerful antibiotics into the eye, but with often poor outcomes, and sometimes loss of eye.
Sympathetic Ophthalmitis – Inflammation occurring in sympathy in the fellow eye (1:17, 000).
Death – Incredibly rare with modern anaesthetic techniques (1:150,000).