Retinal – Can cataract surgery cause retinal detachment?

Retinal detachment takes place when vitreous fluid comes through small tears in the retina, enabling it to separate abnormally from its mooring on the back wall of the eye. Retinal detachment can cause a ‘curtain’ to fall across all or part of the affected eye’s vision, and, can occur in the eyes of people who have never had surgery on their eyes – particularly those people who are highly near-sighted.

Cataract surgery can, though, increase the risk of retinal detachment. Somewhere in the region of 1.5% of people1 who have received cataract surgery suffer from retinal detachment following their surgery*.

Studies have also found that the risk of retinal detachment increases around two-fold after cataract surgery, compared to natural occurrences. It’s also generally more strongly associated with cataract surgery patients who are, male, younger, or those patients whose eyeballs have longer axial lengths.

Surgical complications (which are exceedingly rare during cataract surgery) can also increase the risk of a patient suffering from retinal detachment*.

If you have had cataract surgery and experience a ‘curtain’ blocking your vision, new floating spots in your vision, or flashes of light across your vision, this could indicate that you have suffered retinal detachment and you should contact your ophthalmologist immediately.



  1. Digital Journal of Ophthalmology (DJO): The risks and benefits of cataract surgery

Other related questions

  • Glasses – Why do I need glasses after cataract surgery?

  • Surgery – What does an eye look like after cataract surgery?

  • Surgery – How is a cataract operation performed?

  • Near-sighted – Does cataract surgery correct near-sightedness?

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