Floaters After Cataract Surgery are Mostly Normal

Floaters after cataract surgery are not uncommon and in most of the cases, they don’t pose any threat to your eye or vision. In a small fraction of patients, they may be a sign of a complication of the cataract surgery itself or a pre-existing eye condition which becomes recognizable after surgery.

Floaters are usually small moving specks in the vitreous which is a gel-like structure inside the eye. What you actually see is the shadow of the opacity cast on the retina.

They are visible especially in bright light and against bright background such as a white wall or the sky. They move in the direction of the movement of the eye. They may be irregularly shaped – dots, cobwebs, threads, etc. Because of their movement, they are also known as muscae volitantes (flying flies).

Eye floaters may vary in size also – some are tiny dots while some are quite large. They may be well-defined if they are close to the retina and more hazy in outline if they are away from the retina (behind the lens).

Most of the eye floaters after cataract surgery are harmless

It is important to know that floaters in the eyes are normally found in approximately one-third of population. They are even found in children. As we grow, the number of eye floaters increases gradually. Therefore, eye floaters can be considered as a sign of aging vitreous.

Floaters after cataract surgery may be noticed as the patient was not able to see them before surgery because of cloudy or no vision. As soon as the patient’s vision becomes clear after cataract surgery, he or she starts seeing the floaters as well. This phenomenon is frequently encountered in ophthalmology practice.

Some eye floaters after cataract surgery may be pathological

Some eye floaters noticed after cataract surgery are not normal. There are two possibilities to explain them:

  1. That they pre-existed and were caused by some eye disease. Some of the conditions which can cause eye floaters are posterior vitreous detachment, diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachment, uveitis, retinitis, choroiditis and some disorders of retinal vessels.
  2. That they were caused by the cataract surgery itself. Bleeding inside the eye, post-operative inflammation or infection can cause appearance of eye floaters after cataract surgery or any intraocular surgery for that matter.

For the reasons mentioned above, it is important for the patient to immediately go back to the ophthalmologist to have an eye exam to find out the cause and source of the eye floaters.

The good news is that in most of such scenarios, the eye exam will not reveal anything serious.

How long do floaters in the eye last?

Depending on the cause of the eye floaters, they may gradually disappear in a few weeks or months or they may stay for the rest of your life.

Can eye floaters make you blind?

Eye floaters usually are small in size and do not cause blindness. However, massive bleeding inside the eye, for example as a result of diabetic retinopathy, may cause cloudy vision or blindness.

So if you notice eye floaters after cataract surgery, don’t be worried. Most likely they are not a sign of any disease or complication of cataract surgery. Presence of floaters in the other eye (if that eye does not have cataract) may guide your whether or not the floaters in the operated eye are normal.

As a general rule, you should be alarmed when you notice some other symptoms as well in the first few days after cataract surgery. If you notice any pain, redness of the eye or reduction in vision (as compared to the vision immediately after the surgery), you must visit your eye doctor and get your eye examined to clear the doubts.



2017-04-02T11:47:42+00:00 April 2nd, 2017|Diseases & Conditions, Surgery|12 Comments


  1. Sati May 26, 2017 at 10:49 am - Reply

    I was reassured that l will be able to see immediately after catract surgery but all l see is a huge bright cloud infront of my eye.what can l do.l am 4 weeks post op

    • Javed Anwar MS May 26, 2017 at 12:32 pm - Reply

      The information you have provided suggests that this could be because of some kind of pre-existing opacity or pathological condition behind the lens which was not visible with routine examination before surgery. You can go back to the same ophthalmologist who operated you to know the cause. Alternatively, you can take a second opinion.

  2. lambe riliwan June 13, 2017 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    I was assured that floater doesn’t mean anything which I found beside my eye the next day after a cataract surgery. Please does floater increase in size as I age?

    • Javed Anwar MS June 14, 2017 at 2:04 am - Reply

      If you don’t have any coexisting disease (which could potentially cause hemorrhage in the eye), the floater/s will not increase in size. There may be an increase in the number of age-related floaters, but they will be visually insignificant.

  3. lambe riliwan June 13, 2017 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    I need a quick reply to this;
    Does floater develop or fill the eye completely as we age in life?

    • Javed Anwar MS June 14, 2017 at 1:57 am - Reply

      No, they don’t fill the eye completely as we age. Floaters may increase in numbers. Many of them disappear with time. They do not generally cause blindness unless there is a large hemorrhage in the eye because of, for instance, diabetic retinopathy.

  4. Colin Fribbens September 11, 2017 at 9:44 pm - Reply

    I had both eyes cateracts done 2 years ago. Two weeks after left eye was done I had a shadow moving side to side which I still have is it possible to remove this shadow ?

    • Javed Anwar MS October 5, 2017 at 7:54 am - Reply

      If such shadows are caused by some disease (for instance, hemorrhage inside the eye as a result of diabetic retinopathy), they need treatment. On the other hand, if such shadows are caused by normal age-related changes in the eyes, they don’t need any treatment.

  5. A lakshmi October 1, 2017 at 10:25 am - Reply

    I have done cataract surgery 2 days ago.Even though I didn’t se i properlyproperly.continuous tearing from eyes. Is there any problem in operation. How long time to vision things?

    • Javed Anwar MS October 5, 2017 at 7:49 am - Reply

      The answer to your question depends on multiple factors. Generally, one may experience tearing for a few days after cataract surgery. It should improve in the next few days. If your vision has not improved after surgery, you can go back to your ophthalmologist for a review.

  6. emmanuel January 1, 2018 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    my dad did cataract surgeory in his left eye but didn’t see with it, some years later he had retina detachment and cataract on his right eye, the operation was done, up to 4 months now and he can still see cloud in his vision, what is the cause please?

    • Javed Anwar MS January 10, 2018 at 6:39 am - Reply

      As per the information you provided for the right eye, the retinal detachment could be responsible for cloudy vision. For your left eye as well as for the treatment of right eye, I would advise a complete examination of both of your eyes by an ophthalmologist.

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