Flickering Light After a Cataract Surgery

The flickering light is merely a symptom of your surgery, during which your eye tries to get accustomed to the new lens inserted into your eyes. It’s normal for your eye to take its time and you may witness other symptoms of blurred vision, a certain redness, itchiness, and sensitiveness which are all normal. This is a highly common procedure so you don’t have to be worried about it unless you experience symptoms like sudden pains and loss of eyesight. You can help this process by various ways of following eye hygiene safely and by refraining from over-exercising your eye and body.

A cataract is a complication that occurs in the eye, most common as you grow older. The clearness of the lens in your eye becomes gradually cloudy and may distort your vision.

While most people don’t notice this, it can develop rapidly as well, which will make you resort to cataract surgery. Such surgeries, while resulting in a hazy after effect can give effect to this symptom of flickering lights.

Does the flickering light post-surgery mean something? What other after-effects can you expect after cataract surgery? Is this procedure risky? And if so, what are other symptoms that you should be on the lookout for? What are the dos and don’t for a better and faster recovery process?

Does the flickering light after a cataract surgery mean something?

A flickering light soon after your surgery is more common than you may think. Some may even notice a weird thread of cobweb-like images which are known as floaters.

This is quite harmless and goes away with time. However, in rare instances, it can also be a signal of an eye complication that has occurred during your surgery.

If you experience sudden light flashes, you should notify your ophthalmologist.

What else can you expect after cataract surgery?

Here are a few common side effects that you can expect in the short term.

  1. Blurry vision – As soon as you remove your eye shield you might be greeted with a cloudy distorted vision, which you shouldn’t worry about since your eyes need time to adjust to the newly inserted intraocular lens that has just replaced the natural lens of your eyes. It might take about an hour or so for your eyes to get used to this.
  2. Black eye – Your eye might look bruised as if someone punched you in the face if you’ve gotten an injection of anesthesia before the surgery at the lower eye level. This would naturally last longer than the vision, so give it a few days.
  3. Reddish eyes – You can also expect bloodshot eyes since cataract surgery requires minor tears into the blood vessels within the sclera of your eye. This should also disappear after a few days.
  4. Itchy eyes – You may even feel the urge to scratch your eyes soon after the surgery, which you should of course stop yourself from as it could worsen the situation. This annoying feeling should also go down as soon as your eye starts healing.
  5. Eye-watering or dry eyes – Eye-watering is a common consequence of cataract surgeries and it too will go down in a few days, while the dryness may last about a month or so.
  6. Hypersensitivity to light – The vision center of the California Eye Institute has also stated that a sense of over-sensitiveness to a glare of light can persist for a few days as well.

What are the chances of the cataract surgery results going wrong?

If you’re concerned safety-wise, a 1994 to 2006 mass study has revealed that from over 221,000 cataract surgeries done in the US, 99.5% of the patients had zero complications after the procedure which shows that it is mostly harmless and the risk is incredibly low. 

In rare instances, a condition known as endophthalmitis, which involves inflammation within the eye can pose a threat to your sight, which is why it’s extremely important to not itch your eyes despite its scratchiness as it could lead to such an eye infection.

Another condition is posterior capsular opacification which can cause your eyesight to be distortive for a long period, sometimes even years.

However, this can be easily fixed with a posterior capsulotomy laser medication which will restore your vision perfectly.

Also, if you have other risky health conditions like high blood pressure, it’s always safer to consult your surgeon before the surgery and discuss possible options to minimize this threat.

Symptoms to watch out for after surgery

The riskiest symptoms that you should watch out for include sudden vision loss and multiple flashing lights or spots in front of your eye that seem to be repetitive. You will need to contact your ophthalmologist immediately in those instances.

If you undergo fever, nausea, vomiting, or even excessive coughing, it might be hinting at a surgery complication as well and will need immediate medical attention.

Other symptoms that you should watch out for include an eye redness that persists and any kind of eye pain that doesn’t go down for prescribed painkiller medications.

Any other senses of discomfort that you instinctively feel aren’t normal should be communicated to a doctor, so that he can provide further advice on what you should do.

Apart from this, the Cataract and Glaucoma Specialist Eye Institute of Annapolis also states that to check up with various symptoms, you’ll anyway be advised by the doctor to visit for follow-up appointments within 1 to 2 weeks after surgery.

This may vary from person to person as each heals differently. During such appointments, your eye doctor will recheck your vision and eye pressure to ensure your eye health.

Dos and don’ts for a speedy recovery post-surgery

Since the eye is very delicate, it’s undeniably crucial to protect it especially when it’s at its vulnerable stages soon after the surgery.

The following table will clarify your doubts on what exactly to do and refrain from doing post-surgery:

DosDon’ts
Use antibiotic eye-drops prescribed by your doctor after washing hands wellDon’t do any strenuous physical activities for at least 2 weeks after surgery
When taking baths wash carefully by not allowing shampoo to reach your eye.Don’t drive until the vision of your eyes has recovered completely.
Try and take at least 3 days off of work to rest your eyes and body.Don’t sleep on the side of the operated eye.
Wear sunglasses on bright days when you go out to protect your eyesDon’t sneeze or puke right after surgery
Maintain a diet that’s beneficial to your overall health like greens and fiber-rich whole foodsDon’t rub your eye even if it’s itchy
Wear the protective shield to your eye recommended by the doctor.Don’t apply makeup or too many lotions on your face
The Dos and Don’ts


FAQ’s

How long should you wait to have surgery on your other eye?

Since cataracts can commonly affect both eyes, this is a valid question and the answer depends on how soon your first eye settles down after the initial surgery. Sometimes this could be one week later as well. It may also depend on the strength of the previous glasses you used to wear before surgery.

Will you still need your glasses even after surgery?

This entirely depends on the surgery. If your surgeon used a standard fixed-focus or even a monofocal lens implant to remedy your cataract, then you may need reading glasses or even for long-distance. However, if you had a multifocal lens implant, there’s a higher chance that you won’t be needing glasses afterward. It’s best to ask your surgeon or eye doctor regarding this.

Is cataract surgery a one-time thing?

The answer is yes, the surgery is permanent so you won’t have to redo the surgery on the same eye. However, sometimes rarely debris might build up behind your new lens, which can be easily fixed through a laser procedure.

Conclusion

The American Academy of Ophthalmology has revealed that roughly about 2 million cataract surgeries are conducted each year mostly among patients of age 60 or older.

While such surgeries are highly common, even the symptom of flickering lights after surgery too is quite commonly complained of along with blurred vision and floaters.

This is completely normal and goes away with time.

The speed of recovery however may be partly up to you, since only you can make sure you stay away from eye-straining activities and provide your eye with the necessary rest to fully recover.