What Are The Disadvantages Of Cataract Surgery? Navigating The Hidden Risks

By Michael Bennett

Updated On

Cataract surgery is a common and highly effective procedure that involves removing the cloudy lens of the eye and replacing it with an artificial one. This surgery has helped countless individuals regain clear vision and improve their quality of life. However, as with any surgical procedure, cataract surgery comes with certain risks and potential disadvantages that should be carefully considered before making a decision.

Key Takeaways

  1. Cataract surgery, while highly beneficial, carries potential risks such as infection, inflammation, and vision changes.
  2. Not everyone is a suitable candidate for cataract surgery, and consulting with an ophthalmologist is crucial.
  3. Risks can be minimized by selecting an experienced surgeon, following pre-operative instructions, and adhering to post-operative care.

Benefits Of Cataract Surgery

Before delving into the disadvantages, it’s essential to acknowledge the numerous benefits of cataract surgery. For many people, this procedure can be life-changing, offering significant improvements in vision and overall well-being. Some of the key benefits include:

  • Clearer, sharper vision: Cataract surgery removes the cloudy lens that obscures vision, resulting in clearer, more detailed sight.
  • Enhanced color perception: As cataracts often cause a yellowing effect on vision, their removal can lead to brighter, more vivid colors.
  • Increased independence: Improved vision enables individuals to perform daily activities with greater ease and confidence, enhancing their independence and quality of life.

What are the Disadvantages of Cataract Surgery

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

  • Complications: As with any surgery, there is a risk of complications such as infection, inflammation, bleeding, or retinal detachment. While rare, these complications can lead to temporary or permanent vision loss.
  • Vision changes: Some patients may experience temporary or permanent vision changes after cataract surgery, such as glare, halos, or double vision. These side effects can be bothersome and may require additional treatment.
  • Need for follow-up procedures: In some cases, patients may require follow-up procedures or additional treatments to address complications or refine the results of cataract surgery.
  • Cost: Cataract surgery can be expensive, and not all insurance plans cover the full cost of the procedure and associated expenses.

Who Should Not Get Cataract Surgery?

While cataract surgery is suitable for most individuals with cataracts, there are certain circumstances in which the procedure may not be recommended. These include:

  • Uncontrolled eye diseases: If a patient has an active eye infection or uncontrolled glaucoma, cataract surgery may need to be postponed until these conditions are managed.
  • Severe medical conditions: Patients with severe medical conditions that increase surgical risks, such as uncontrolled diabetes or advanced heart disease, may not be suitable candidates for cataract surgery.
  • Unrealistic expectations: It’s essential for patients to have realistic expectations about the outcomes of cataract surgery. Those who expect perfect vision without the need for glasses or contact lenses may be disappointed.

Consulting with an experienced ophthalmologist is crucial in determining whether cataract surgery is appropriate for an individual’s specific situation.

How to Reduce the Risks of Cataract Surgery

While the disadvantages of cataract surgery cannot be entirely eliminated, there are several steps patients can take to minimize the risks:

  • Select an experienced surgeon: Choosing a skilled and experienced ophthalmologist can significantly reduce the risk of complications and ensure the best possible outcomes.
  • Follow pre-operative instructions: Patients should carefully follow their surgeon’s instructions regarding medications, fasting, and other preparations before surgery.
  • Adhere to post-operative care: After surgery, patients must diligently use prescribed eye drops, avoid rubbing the eye, and attend all follow-up appointments to monitor healing and address any concerns promptly.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and protecting the eyes from sun exposure can support the healing process and overall eye health.

Read More: What Is Commonly Misdiagnosed As Pink Eye? Identifying The Imposters


Cataract surgery is a transformative procedure that can greatly enhance vision and quality of life. However, it’s important to weigh the potential disadvantages and risks against the benefits when considering this surgery. By understanding the possible complications, such as infection, inflammation, and vision changes, patients can make informed decisions about their eye health.

Consulting with a trusted ophthalmologist is essential in determining whether cataract surgery is the right choice for an individual’s unique situation. If the decision to proceed with surgery is made, patients can minimize risks by selecting an experienced surgeon, following pre-operative instructions, and adhering to post-operative care guidelines.

Ultimately, the decision to undergo cataract surgery is a personal one that should be made in collaboration with a qualified eye care professional. By carefully considering the benefits, disadvantages, and individual circumstances, patients can make the best choice for their vision and overall well-being.


Q: Is cataract surgery painful?

A: Cataract surgery is typically performed under local anesthesia, which numbs the eye and surrounding area. Most patients experience minimal discomfort during the procedure, often describing it as a sensation of mild pressure. Any pain or discomfort after surgery can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain medication.

Q: How long does it take to recover from cataract surgery?

A: Recovery time after cataract surgery varies from person to person, but most patients can resume normal activities within a few days. Complete healing may take several weeks, during which time patients should follow their surgeon’s instructions regarding medication use, eye protection, and follow-up appointments.

Q: Can cataracts come back after surgery?

A: Once a cataract is removed, it cannot grow back. However, some patients may experience a condition called posterior capsule opacification (PCO), also known as a “secondary cataract.” This occurs when the thin membrane behind the artificial lens becomes cloudy, causing vision to deteriorate. PCO can be easily treated with a quick, painless laser procedure called a YAG capsulotomy.

Q: Will I still need glasses after cataract surgery?

A: The need for glasses after cataract surgery depends on various factors, including the type of artificial lens implanted and the presence of other vision problems such as astigmatism or presbyopia. Some patients may still require glasses for certain activities, such as reading or driving, while others may achieve excellent vision without the need for corrective lenses. Discussing your vision goals and options with your ophthalmologist can help set realistic expectations.


  1. National Eye Institute. (2019). Cataract Surgery. https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/cataracts/cataract-surgery
  2. American Academy of Ophthalmology. (2021). Cataract Surgery. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-cataract-surgery

Michael Bennett

Ophthalmologist Dr. Michael Bennett is board-certified and has been treating eye conditions and doing eye surgery for more than 15 years. At the esteemed Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, where he served as Chief Resident, he finished his ophthalmology residency.

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