Reasons For Blurry Vision After Cataract Surgery

Mar 13, 2023
 – Besser Eye Care Team
  • Cataracts

Blurry vision after cataract surgery is a common experience for patients. Learn how long blurred vision typically lasts and when follow up care may be necessary.

Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most widely practiced ocular procedures, with a success rate of 98.5%.

Following surgery, it is normal for patients to experience blurred vision in the eye where the operation took place. While blurry vision after cataract surgery typically goes away in a couple of days, persistent blurred vision may be a sign of further complications.

To ensure a smooth recovery, patients should understand what is normal and when to contact their eye doctor.

Cataracts explained

A cataract is a condition where the lens inside of the eye becomes hard and cloudy over time, allowing less and less light to enter. This causes vision to dim and blur, making daily activities more difficult.

Cataracts are a normal part of the aging process. They typically form after age 40, when the eye's natural proteins start to break down. In the early stages, patients may not notice the effects of cataracts. However, as the lens continues to cloud, they can experience symptoms like blurry vision, sensitivity to light, and difficulty seeing at night.

What is cataract surgery?

When cataracts disrupt daily activities, patients may consider receiving cataract surgery. In the procedure, a surgeon removes a patient's cloudy lens and replaces it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL).

The procedure is like implanting a new contact lens in the eye. Following surgery, patients will enjoy clearer, crisper vision.

What to expect in recovery

Patients should expect dull and blurry vision in the days after surgery. To facilitate a quick recovery, the eye doctor will likely schedule follow-up visits to monitor progress.

Doctors may also make recommendations to speed up healing time. These can include:

  • Using eye drops and medication

  • Wearing protective eyewear

  • Not engaging in physical and strenuous activities

  • Avoiding irritants such as soap, makeup, and dust

Is blurred vision after cataract surgery normal?

After cataract surgery, many patients will experience blurred vision in the eye where they received the operation. This is a normal part of recovery and should not alarm patients. It takes time for the eyes to adjust to the newly implanted lens.

Not everyone recovers at the same speed. Some people will have clear vision within a day of surgery. For others it may take a few days for their vision to clear.

When should patients be concerned?

Vision typically returns to normal a few days after surgery. If blurred vision after cataract surgery continues to persist for a few weeks, it may be a sign of a bigger problem.

Patients should contact their eye doctor if blurred vision lingers on, or returns in the days or months following their cataract surgery.


What can cause blurred vision?

There is no single cause for ongoing blurred vision after cataract surgery. One or more factors may be responsible for the outcome:


Inflammation is a natural response to the removal of the lens. While quite usual, inflammation can affect vision and lead to discomfort.

Inflammation usually subsides as patients recover from surgery. If it lasts longer, the doctor may prescribe eye drops or medication to help the eye heal.

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes after surgery can also lead to blurred vision. A 2019 study found that 64% of participants experienced dryness following cataract surgery. The procedure often disrupts the tear film in the eye and decreases the production of tears and lubricants.

If a patient continues to experience dry eyes following surgery, a doctor may recommend over-the-counter eye drops or tears that help alleviate their blurred vision.

Cystoid Macular Edema

Blurry vision after cataract surgery can occur because of Cystoid Macular Edema (CME). In this condition, the central retina (the macula) begins to swell.

CME usually occurs 6-8 weeks after surgery and can be resolved using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) eye drops.

Posterior Capsular Opacification (Secondary Cataract)

In the years following surgery, patients may develop a condition called posterior capsular opacification (secondary cataracts). A secondary cataract is the result of the proliferation of epithelial cells on the posterior capsule — a part of the eye modified during cataract surgery.

Secondary cataracts are common and can be treated with an operation called a YAG laser capsulotomy. In the procedure, an eye doctor uses a laser to create an opening in a cloudy capsule that allows light to pass and helps clear vision. This procedure is quick, painless, and only takes minutes to complete.

Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment is an extremely rare complication that occurs in less than one percent of cases. It is more common in people with other eye conditions.

In a retinal detachment, the retina breaks away from the eye, which can cause blurred and obstructed vision. This condition is considered an eye care emergency and can lead to blindness if left untreated.

If a patient has sudden vision changes after surgery, they should immediately contact their eye doctor.


If you’re in the Los Angeles area and would like more information about cataract surgery, please contact Dr. Besser's office for a consultation.

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