Cataract surgery is a procedure performed by an eye surgeon that involves the removal of a patient's natural eyeball lens. This is done to get rid of a cataract, or cloudy lens, so the natural lens can be replaced with a suitable synthetic substitute. Rarely, complications of cataract surgery may arise, including posterior capsular opacity or tears. Other complications include posterior vitreous detachment and toxic anterior segment syndrome.
Most ophthalmologists agree that one of the most common complications of cataract surgery is something called posterior capsular opacity. This is sometimes referred to as a after-cataract or secondary cataract, and it is characterized by cloudy or blurry vision. This condition is usually caused by the membrane that lies just behind the intraocular, or synthetic, lens. Correcting this problem usually involves a simple outpatient laser eye procedure.
Posterior capsular tears or ruptures are other possible complications of cataract surgery. Sometimes, during a cataract surgery, even the best ophthalmologists are at risk of tearing or puncturing this sensitive tissue. This can lead to vision problems.
Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD), can also be one of the complications of cataract surgery, especially in younger patients. When this happens, the gel-like substance inside the eyeball, called the vitreous humor, begins to separate from the retina. Although this commonly occurs as people get older, it can happen weeks or even months after cataract surgery. Symptoms of PVD may not occur, or some sufferers may experience floaters in their field of vision or flashes of light. Many times this condition isn't serious and can easily be corrected, but there is an increased risk of a retinal tear or retinal detachment.
Toxic anterior segment syndrome, sometimes known as TASS, is a less common complications of cataract surgery, but it can occur in a small percentage of patients. TASS is the inflammation of the intraocular lens, and it is often caused by inadequately sterilized materials. Symptoms of this condition usually present themselves within a day or two, and can include blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and pain.
Endophthalmitis has very similar symptoms to TASS, and as a result, these conditions are sometimes confused with one another. While endophthalmitis is also a complication of cataract surgery, it is usually caused by bacteria. Treatments of these two conditions vary as well.
TASS usually responds quite well to topical corticosteroids applied to the eyeball. Very severe cases of this condition may require a corneal transplant. Treatment for endophthalmitis typically involves injecting the eyeball with strong antibiotics. Surgery may also be also be necessary.