Cataract Surgery Risks and Dangers

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headache after cataract surgery

Routine cataract surgery carries risks that range from minor or temporary, such as vision worsening and bleeding, to those that could permanently alter it. Potential risks include worsening vision, bleeding and infection.

Ocular or head pain after cataract surgery should never be ignored and should be assessed promptly. Here are some of the more prevalent causes:.


Everyone can experience headaches from time to time; stress, squinting into the sun, or fatigue are among many causes that could bring temporary visual pain. But if chronic headaches plague you, it might be time to visit an eye doctor; headaches and vision problems could be related to various eye conditions like glaucoma and cataracts that if left untreated may lead to permanent visual loss and worsen your headaches over time.

Glaucoma occurs when fluid cannot drain properly from your eye and causes pressure on the optic nerve, causing sharp eye pain and blurred vision. If diagnosed, medication will likely be prescribed to help manage eye pressure and protect vision loss.

Cataracts occur when your natural lens becomes cloudy, making it hard for you to see clearly. This condition may also result in symptoms like light sensitivity, itching, nausea, and vision changes; in such instances your doctor will recommend corrective lenses in order to restore clarity to your vision.

There are various medications available to you after cataract surgery to relieve any associated discomfort or symptoms, some taken orally while others in form of eye drops. Before taking any medications it’s a good idea to discuss them with your eye doctor and inquire as to any possible adverse side effects or interactions that might be present.

Cluster headaches are sharp attacks of intense eye pain that typically last minutes to hours and often accompany reddening of skin and watery eyes. Cluster headaches tend to affect more women, people suffering from non-ocular pain disorders, those taking antihistamines, antireflux medication or antidepressants as well as people taking certain antihistamines or antidepressants; it has even been proven that electrical stimulation of certain nerves in that region reduces their frequency. One device called a Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block may help reduce these attacks by electrically stimulating nerves in that area of nerve stimulation of these nerves in this region of pain relief.

Changes in Vision

Cataracts can make daily activities challenging, making the transition of everyday tasks difficult and blurred vision all but impossible. Cataracts are a natural part of aging but may also develop due to eye injuries or certain medications. Cataract surgery is the only effective solution, replacing cloudy lenses with artificial ones and correcting problems such as glare, blurriness and difficulty with contrast as well as decreasing dependence on glasses or contacts for reading distance vision and reading distance vision.

Under cataract surgery, your surgeon creates a small opening in the cornea of your eye and inserts an applicator fitted with an ultrasound probe into the area where a cataract has formed. The probe transmits ultrasound waves which break apart the cataract into tiny pieces that can then be easily suctioned out from your eye by suction. Finally, they implant an intraocular lens implant – providing clear vision without needing glasses or contacts afterwards.

Surgery may increase eye pressure, though this is relatively uncommon. If it does happen, your doctor will likely recommend eye drops designed to lower ocular pressure to ease any associated discomfort.

Some Veterans report experiencing headaches following cataract surgery due to changes in their visual quality. This is often because yellow or brown tinted cataracts pre-surgery altered color perception and made colors appear duller; according to a VA Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) completed by one Veteran in September 2015, they experienced migraines and other headaches related to blurred and reduced vision as well as floaters in their right eye, and this contributed to headaches following cataract surgery.

Changes in Sleep Patterns

Cataract surgery can improve your vision, yet may alter your sleep patterns. Circadian rhythms of the body can be affected by light exposure; blue-rich light exposure has the highest impact on melatonin secretion. Cataract patients may notice changes to their sleeping patterns that could exacerbate age-related depression and could result in decreased quality sleep patterns overall.

Researchers investigated the effect of yellow intraocular lenses (IOLs) on sleep patterns and mood among older subjects who underwent cataract surgery. To do this, 204 patients who received either yellow or clear IOLs completed a sleep diary, pictorial sleepiness scale, Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), sleep diary and completer all necessary forms. Results demonstrated no discernible difference in secretion rates or sleep parameters based on either presence or absence of yellow IOLs; however BDI scores increased significantly for yellow IOL group when compared with its counterparts who received clear IOLs.

The authors hypothesize that this difference could be explained by yellow IOLs filtering out visible light rich in blue wavelengths, which may disrupt circadian rhythm and sleep patterns. They found no significant differences in clinically diagnosed insomnia between groups after considering all-cause mortality statistics.


Floaters are a common feature among older adults, typically appearing as small clumps of gel or cells floating across your field of vision on plain backgrounds like white walls or clear skies. They may resemble small dots, strings, or cobwebs and often fade when turning your head or looking away from blank surfaces. While floaters may simply become part of growing older, sudden increases or flashes of light could indicate retinal tears or detachments and should be checked immediately by an eyecare provider.

These symptoms should never be ignored as they could be indicative of other serious issues and should never be dismissed lightly. A sudden appearance of new floaters could signal that there is a tear in the retina or that vitreous gel is pulling away from retina, both conditions that should receive immediate medical treatment in order to prevent permanent loss of vision.

Notable eye health conditions that can contribute to headaches include uveitis, an eye inflammation caused by inflammation inside of the eye, retinal tears or detachments (which can result in sudden floaters), and keratoconus, a condition causing thin corneas which distort vision and create light sensitivity – symptoms often seen with chronic headaches associated with light sensitivity. Consult a qualified eye care provider if these symptoms persist if experiencing persistent headaches accompanied by light sensitivity.

Dry Eye

Eyes need tears to stay moist, wash away debris and provide lubrication of the eye surface. Tears also contain enzymes which protect against infection and keep cornea healthy. When there aren’t enough tears produced or they evaporate too quickly, you could develop dry eye syndrome which causes scratchy, sandy or gritty sensations and stringy clear or white discharge, leading to pain and discomfort in eyes. Dry eye syndrome is more commonly experienced by older people as well as smokers living in hot and dry environments.

Inflammation in the eye can also contribute to symptoms of dry eye syndrome. Cataract surgery disturbs delicate tissues of the eye which may trigger inflammation; preexisting conditions like uveitis or glaucoma may also contribute to pain after surgery.

Dry eye syndrome may also be brought on by medication used during cataract removal surgery, including antihistamines, antibiotics or steroid medications. As the ocular surface can become particularly susceptible to irritation after cataract removal surgery, using prescription lubricant drops or ointments prescribed by your surgeon is of vital importance in alleviating any potential discomfort after cataract removal surgery. Good eyelid hygiene practices, humidifier use and taking essential fatty acid dietary supplements may all help decrease symptoms of dry eye syndrome as well.

Although most patients do not experience post-cataract surgery dry eye complications, a small minority do. Patients who already suffer from preexisting ocular surface conditions or history of dry eye disease are particularly prone to developing these issues post-surgery; to optimize surgical refractive outcomes and patient satisfaction. Understanding and managing any complications with proper strategies will ultimately increase comfort and vision.

About the Author:
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Alexander Suprun

Alex started his first web marketing campaign in 1997 and continues harvesting this fruitful field today. He helped many startups and well-established companies to grow to the next level by applying innovative inbound marketing strategies. For the past 26 years, Alex has served over a hundred clients worldwide in all aspects of digital marketing and communications. Additionally, Alex is an expert researcher in healthcare, vision, macular degeneration, natural therapy, and microcurrent devices. His passion lies in developing medical devices to combat various ailments, showcasing his commitment to innovation in healthcare.


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