People may develop blurred vision or other complications following cataract surgery, even 2 or more years after receiving cataract surgery.

People with cataracts experience blurry or hazy vision as they get older. Doctors can implant an artificial lens in a person’s eye after removing their cataracts.

This article explores blurred vision after cataract surgery, its causes, when to consult a doctor, treatments, and other possible effects of the procedure.

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People who have had cataract surgery may experience blurred vision or eye sensitivity as they recover. A person’s eyes should feel better by 1–2 days afterward. However, it may take up to 8 weeks to completely heal.

If a person’s vision starts blurring again years later, they may have developed posterior capsule opacification (PCO).

PCO occurs in 20–50% of people within 2–5 years of cataract surgery.

PCO can cause a person to experience gradual:

  • blurred vision
  • reduced sensitivity to contrast
  • a lack of binocular vision, where a person’s eyes do not work together
  • halo effects, where a person sees halos or rings around lights

Other names for PCO are after-cataract or secondary cataracts.

PCO occurs when scar tissue, or secondary cataracts, forms on the part of the capsule that holds a person’s artificial lens implant. The scar tissue forms as it heals over where doctors have inserted the artificial lens.

This scar tissue grows on a membrane called the posterior capsule. The scarring forms behind the implant in a person’s eye, making their vision cloudy again.

Health risk factors

Researchers are still investigating the exact mechanism of how people develop PCO. However, they have found PCO is more likely in younger people or people who have:

Lens-specific risk factors

The design of a person’s artificial lens also affects their risk of developing PCO. Lens risk factors include:

  • Lens shape and surface: Rounded lenses are more likely to cause PCO.
  • Lens material: Some scientists believe newer, more flexible materials may help prevent PCO. However, this is still under discussion.
  • The number of lens pieces: People with three-piece lenses are at less risk than those with one-piece lenses.

A Doctor’s surgical implantation technique also affects a person’s PCO risk factor.

Some surgical operation methods reduce the risk of a person’s lens eventually causing PCO. However, they take more time for doctors to perform. Longer operations increase the risk of a person developing other surgical complications.

People should contact a doctor if they experience any of the following after cataract surgery:

  • loss of vision
  • pain that will not go away with medication
  • red eyes
  • eye floaters
  • retinal detachment, where a person sees many new eye floaters or a dark curtain across their vision

When blurry vision is a cause for concern

If someone suddenly experiences blurry vision, they should call 911 immediately.

Sudden blurry vision may indicate a person has or is experiencing a:

Not all cases of sudden blurry vision mean a person needs urgent medical attention. However, the above conditions can be severe. If a person is experiencing them, they should seek immediate professional treatment.

If a person develops blurry vision gradually after cataract surgery, they may have PCO. This does require treatment but does not usually need urgent medical care.

Doctors will use laser capsulotomy to treat a person’s PCO. They use this technique to make an opening in the capsule. This allows the person to see as usual again within a few days.

Laser capsulotomy is painless and quick, and a person will not usually need further laser treatment.

Researchers continue to develop alternative treatments for people with PCO. These include:

Cataract surgery is one of the most common and safe surgical procedures a person can receive. However, as with all surgeries, a person may experience some side effects.

PCO is the most common side effect of a person’s cataract surgery. Other side effects may include:

  • changes in pressure on a person’s eyes
  • eye swelling
  • eye bleeding
  • eye infections
  • vision loss
  • double vision
  • retinal detachment
  • dislocation of a person’s artificial lens
  • damage to other parts of a person’s eye

If people experience these symptoms after cataract surgery, they should immediately contact a doctor.

Up to 50% of people experience blurred vision 2–5 years after cataract surgery due to posterior capsule opacification.

Doctors can typically treat a person’s PCO using laser capsulotomy. This procedure will restore a person’s vision and improve their quality of life.