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Are Floaters After Cataract Surgery Normal?

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An animated recreation of the eye ball with floaters highlighted in green and Eye floaters mentioned at the bottom.

Eye surgery can be a nerve-wracking experience no matter who you are. 

Cataract surgery is a very popular procedure across the country to help people regain their vision. This procedure is safe, routine, and rarely results in complications.

Eye floaters are a common visual issue that can affect many people. These floaters hang out in your visual field and look like little gray spots or blobs. 

While floaters typically don’t affect your ability to see, it’s important to know when a floater is just a floater and when it’s a sign of something more serious. If you’re ever in doubt, it’s best to book an eye exam to know for sure.

What Are Floaters?

Floaters are small specks or lines that float into your field of vision. Eye floaters can be annoying, but rarely cause any pain or discomfort. 

These black or gray blobs are caused by vitreous fibers in the fluid that fills your eyeball. They can cast shadows on your optic nerve, creating a floater in your vision. Floaters will move as your eyes move. If you try to look at one, it’ll likely dart out of the way. 

Eye floaters often appear after staring at a bright, plain surface. Floaters usually become more common as we age. 

Understanding Cataract Surgery

Cataracts cause the natural lens of your eye to become cloudy and hazy, affecting your vision. Cataracts usually develop slowly and can be corrected with surgery.

Once cataracts begin affecting your vision, you can talk to your optometrist or ophthalmologist about cataract surgery. 

This procedure replaces your natural, cloudy lens with an artificial, clear lens. This lens is custom-made to fit your eye. The procedure usually takes just a few minutes and has a fairly quick recovery time. 

Cataract surgery is a safe, common procedure performed all over the country. 

An elderly woman sitting with her chin resting on an eye examining equipment and light focused onto her right eye with a lady physician at the other end of the examining equipment.

The Connection Between Floaters & Cataract Surgery

Floaters can be a completely normal result of cataract surgery, but the causes of floaters can vary depending on certain symptoms. 

Preexisting Floaters

It’s possible that you may have had floaters prior to your surgery. You may not have noticed them due to the clouding in your lens caused by cataracts. With a clear lens, these floaters may now be visible. 

Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD)

Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) is a condition in which the vitreous (gel-like fluid that fills the eyeball) separates from the retina. 

Cataract surgery requires some manipulation of the eye to insert an artificial lens. This can result in vitreous movement, causing PVD. Surgical technique, surgical complications, pre-existing conditions, and retinal tearing can all contribute to PVD. 

PVD rarely causes damage to the retina. However, if you experience any vision loss following your surgery, contact your doctor right away. 

Other Causes

While preexisting floaters and PVD are the most common causes of floaters following cataract surgery, some other causes to know include:

  • Eye infection/injury
  • Bleeding inside the eye
  • Uveitis (inflammation inside the eye)

Your eye doctor can perform a dilated eye exam to help determine the cause of your floaters. Naturally occurring floaters or floaters caused by PVD often don’t need treatment. 

However, if eye floaters are drastically affecting your vision and quality of life, your doctor may recommend a vitrectomy. A vitrectomy is a surgery that involves replacing the natural vitreous fluid with a different solution.

When To See a Doctor

Call your ophthalmologist or eye care provider immediately if you see eye floaters and if:

  • You see flashes of light
  • You lose your peripheral vision
  • You develop eye pain
  • You have blurred vision or vision loss
  • You notice more frequent floaters
  • You notice the floaters change in intensity, size, or shape

While floaters are usually not harmful, they can be a symptom of something more serious. Contact our team today to learn more about how we can help you protect your vision. 

Written by useye

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