Can Cataract Surgery Cause Headaches?

Cataract Surgery is a relatively simple minor procedure with a generally favourable side effect profile. For most patients, the recovery period is short and uneventful with few – if any – complications. However, it is common to experience some minor side effects during the first few weeks following the procedure.

It is estimated that around 450,000 cataract surgeries are performed each year in England alone. It should come as no surprise, then, that Cataract Surgery has an extremely high success rate with most patients experiencing a smooth recovery with minor side effects. However, in a small number of cases, some patients may encounter some less common complications. But can Cataract Surgery cause headaches?

What is Cataract Surgery?

Ageing may be more often associated with greying hair and aching muscles, but our eyes can also begin to suffer as we get older. In addition to the eventual development of presbyopia (ageing eyes), many of us will also begin to notice the formation of cataracts.

These cloudy obstructions form as the proteins in the eye’s natural lens begin to break down and clump together. As cataracts mature, they can cause significant loss of vision which can only be reversed with Cataract Surgery.

Cataract Surgery is a straightforward routine procedure that involves removing the obstruction by replacing the cataract-affected lens with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). This is done by creating a small incision on the surface of the cornea. Through this incision, an ultrasound probe is inserted into the eye to break up the cataract. Next, the cataract is removed from the lens capsule and the IOL is put in its place.

What are the Common Side Effects of Cataract Surgery?

Given the invasive nature of Cataract Surgery, it is common to experience some discomfort in and around the eye following the procedure. This can feel like you have something grainy stuck in your eye. However, such side effects can usually be managed with the use of over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol and typically resolve within a few weeks.

In the days and weeks following your treatment, it is also common to experience dry eyes and blurriness as your eye heals. Your surgeon and ophthalmologist will monitor these symptoms and provide you with the necessary eye drops and medication to address them. Some patients may also experience some rarer side effects after Cataract Surgery, including headaches.

Experiencing a headache after Cataract Surgery may be linked to other side effects such as dry eyes, blurred vision, and general eye pain. If this is the case, your headaches should begin to subside as these other side effects resolve themselves.

In rare cases, Cataract Surgery has been associated with the development of cluster headaches. While the precise reason for this is unknown, it is thought that the corneal incision can “trigger the trigeminal-autonomic reflex, a pathophysiological mechanism potentially implicated in idiopathic cluster headache.”

While this is far from a common side effect of Cataract Surgery, it is important to tell your surgeon or ophthalmologist if you experience any significant headache symptoms following your surgery.

Can Cataracts Cause Headaches?

Headaches are not considered a typical symptom of cataracts; however, other common symptoms such as impaired vision may trigger headaches in some people.

As cataracts mature, they may have an impact on an existing refractive error, leaving you without the correct glasses prescription. Squinting and straining to focus on objects as a result of cataracts and associated vision impairment can contribute to an increased incidence of headaches.

If you have any further questions regarding the potential side effects of Cataract Surgery, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our friendly clinic coordinators. Alternatively, Book a Consultation at London Vision Clinic today.