Cataract Surgery and
Lens Implantation

Risks and Results
of Cataract Surgery

Risks and Results of Cataract Surgery

Cataract removal is one of the most common, safest and most effective operations performed today. In about 90 percent of cases, people who have cataract surgery have better vision afterward. In 8 percent of cases there is a pre-existant problem with the retina or macula, cornea or optic nerve which can adversely affect results. In 2 per cent of cases there can be a complication at surgery which can limit the results.

If the only problem with the eye is to do with the frosty lens, then there is an excellent chance that vision can be restored by having a cataract operation to remove the cataract, along with the intraocular lens implant which is meant to replace the focusing power that is lost with removal of the lens during a cataract operation.

The usual practice is to aim for a final refraction of -0.50 diopters which is the same as being mildly myopic. The reason for this choice is that people who are mildy myopic will have some reading vision without glasses and generally be much happier than someone who ends up hyperopic (ie +0.50 diopters). With hyperopia you will have no vision without glasses and will need a set of glasses to see in the distance and a stronger set of glasses for reading.

Just as everyone over 50 years of age will require bifocals or trifocals to optimize vision at all distances, everyone who has had cataract surgery will also require bifocals or trifocals for best vision at all distances.


As with any operation, it is important to understand that complications can occur during or after surgery, some severe enough to limit vision. You could get an infection or a hemorrhage (or a number of other complications) that could cause delayed healing, or even the loss of an eye. It is for this reason that we usually wait until the vision has fallen to the 20/50 or 20/60 level before a patient is given the option of proceeding with cataract surgery.

If other eye problems are present, perfect vision may not return after cataract removal. If such conditions are severe, removal of the cataract may not result in any improvement in vision.

Your ophthalmologist can tell you how much visual improvement is likely. However, as with any surgery, a good result cannot be guaranteed.

What is a Cataract        Types of Cataracts and the Symptoms         Detecting a Cataract
Cataract Treatment      How is a Cataract Removed        Phacoemulsification Technique
Intraocular Lens Implants                                Before, During, and After Cataract Surgery
When Will My Vision Return to Normal                         What is a YAG Laser Capsulotomy
Risks and Results of Cataract Surgery                                   History of Lens Implantation

For more information contact:
Dr. Murray McFadden
(BSc, MD, FRCS(C), Diplomate of the American
Board of Ophthalmology)

© Copyright 1996-2004 Murray McFadden MD, Inc.

Telephone: (604) 530-3332
Fax: (604) 535-6258
SnailMail: 20434 64th Avenue, Unit #201,
Langley, BC Canada V2Y 1N4

This page last updated on December 30, 2003.
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