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Floaters After Cataract Surgery: Is It Normal?

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Technology surrounding the close up of an eye to examine for floaters after cataract surgery

Cataract surgery can help you see clearly again when cataracts significantly affect your vision, making it hard to see, read, or recognize facial expressions. It’s a procedure where your surgeon removes the eye’s cloudy lens and replaces it with an artificial lens. While cataract surgery can help improve your vision, some patients may notice eye floaters in their vision afterward. 

Continue reading to learn more about eye floaters, including if it’s normal to have them after cataract surgery. 

What Are Floaters? 

Have you ever seen a small dot or line moving across your eye when you look at the sky or something bright? This shape is a floater, something many people experience. 

Floaters are dark shapes in your vision, looking like spots, threads, squiggly lines, or cobwebs. These shapes are small pieces of your vitreous, the substance filling the middle of the eye, which stick together and create shadows on your retina. These shadows appearing at the back of the eye are the floaters you see in your vision. 

Floaters typically disappear with time and don’t require treatment. You develop more floaters with age as your vitreous and eyes change. However, floaters can be a sign of a more serious problem. 

Suddenly developing new floaters or having floaters that won’t go away can be a symptom of an eye condition. 

Are Floaters Normal After Cataract Surgery? 

Depending on their cause, seeing floaters can be normal after cataract surgery

You may have already had floaters while your cataract formed, and receiving cataract surgery allowed you to notice these floaters more easily because you can see clearly. These floaters may go away in a couple of weeks to months. If needed, your doctor can help manage floaters if they affect your vision or quality of life. 

In other cases, floaters can mean you’re experiencing a complication related to cataract surgery. The best thing you can do if you notice floaters after cataract surgery is to visit your eye doctor for an eye exam. They can determine the cause of your floaters and recommend your next steps. 

What Causes Floaters After Cataract Surgery? 

You’re more likely to develop floaters after receiving cataract surgery. You may notice floaters after surgery for several reasons, including preexisting floaters, posterior vitreous detachment, and retinal detachment. 

Preexisting Floaters

You may have had preexisting floaters before your surgery, but you couldn’t see them because of your cataracts. Cataract surgery helps you see more clearly, making these floaters easier to see. 

Posterior Vitreous Detachment 

Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) is a condition where the vitreous pulls away from the retina. PVD typically happens with age as the eye goes through natural changes, leading to the development of floaters. 

Cataract surgery involves making incisions into the eye and removing the lens, so there is a risk of issues with the vitreous. The vitreous may shift during surgery, leading to PVD. Surgical technique, complications during surgery, and preexisting eye conditions can increase the risk of PVD during cataract surgery

Retinal Detachment 

Retinal detachment is a severe problem where the retina pulls away from the back of the eye. Retinal detachment causes the retina to lose its supply of oxygen and nutrients from the blood vessels in the eye. If left untreated, this condition can lead to permanent vision loss. 

2018 research discovered that around 0.7% of patients experience retinal detachment after cataract surgery. Retinal detachment is rare after cataract surgery but can have serious consequences. Floaters can be a symptom of retinal detachment, alongside flashes of light, blurry vision, and peripheral vision loss. 

A patient undergoing cataract surgery

Treating Floaters After Cataract Surgery

Treating floaters depends on their cause—some conditions don’t require treatment while others do. Your eye doctor will complete an eye exam to help determine the cause of your floaters, whether it’s aging, a retinal problem, or another issue. After diagnosing the problem, they can recommend a treatment plan. 

Signs of a Serious Postsurgical Problem

Floaters can be a symptom of a significant eye problem after cataract surgery, making it important to visit your doctor. While floaters may be harmless, you shouldn’t assume there are no potential problems. Visiting your eye doctor can help determine if you need treatment. 

Besides floaters, you should visit your eye doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms following cataract surgery: 

  • Sudden flashes of light
  • A gray curtain-like shadow blocking parts of your vision
  • A shadow in your peripheral vision
  • Eye pain that won’t go away
  • Red eyes
  • Vision loss of any kind

Don’t Ignore Floaters in Your Vision

While floaters can be common after cataract surgery, they may mean you’re experiencing a significant eye problem. Always visit your eye doctor if you notice floaters in your vision after cataract surgery. They can examine your eyes and recommend a treatment plan if necessary. Contact your eye doctor if you’re experiencing floaters or have questions about cataract surgery.

Written by Center for Sight

Center For Sight is one of the nation’s leading multi-disciplinary physician groups. We provide ophthalmology, optometry, dermatology, audiology, and aesthetic services. With several locations throughout Southwest Florida, we proudly offer our patients convenient access to nationally-renowned surgeons, compassionate staff members, and cutting-edge technology.

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