Ophthalmologist Questions Cataract Surgery

Bilateral cataract surgery

Are there any risks of performing bilateral cataract surgery simultaneously?

Female | 59 years old

9 Answers

Cataracts are usually performed one at a time due to the small risk of infection.
Traditionally, bilateral, same day sequential cataract surgery has not been done due to the remote chance of infection. But with risk of infection now approaching (but not quite) zero, some doctors are performing them on the same visit. Also, in cases where a patient (elderly, children, uncooperative) needs to be place under general anesthesia, the risk of complications from same day bilateral surgery is probably less than the risk of anesthesia complications. "Simultaneous bilateral surgery" would be difficulty unless you have two surgeons operating on you at the same time!!
This is starting to be done, but at this time is not very prevalent. The risk associated with cataract surgery is very low, but certainly every surgeon eventually will encounter some complications. Most patients do well even with complications & most achieve very good visual results. For this reason, the safest way is to do one eye first and then return 3-4 weeks later for the second eye. The second surgery can even be done sooner if necessary.

Don Cerise
Cataract surgery is one of the safest procedures you can have done to your eyes and the risks are very small. The risks of bilateral cataract surgery seem to be similar to cataract surgery performed one eye at a time. The concern, is that if you were to have one of these rare complications it would be much more devastating if it happened in both eyes at the same time. Discuss this risk with your surgeon.
Any surgery carries risk of inflammation and infection. Infection during cataract surgery can cause blindness. It is not wise to do both eyes at the same time. If there is any infection in the operation room, you may lose both eyes at the same time.
Risk of infection, about 1 in 2,000.

Best Regards,
David J. Pinhas, M.D.
Yes, double the risks for one at a time. Even though infections are incredibly rare, they can occur. If you get an infection in one eye, that’s bad enough, but if in both eyes, that can devastate your life. Unless there is some overriding reason to do both eyes simultaneously, I would recommend separating them.

Jeffrey D. Gold, MD
Although cataract surgery is one of the safest surgeries performed in the world, I wouldn’t recommend it simultaneously in case of rare side effects. We usually wait one week in between eyes.

A. James Khodabakhsh, MD
Your need a very competent team to do bilateral surgery. So for most it's best to do one at a time so that if your eye gets infected or there are surgical complications you will not be blinded on both eyes.