Cataract Surgery and Diabetes

Cataract Surgery and Diabetes

This article is a guest post by cataract and refractive specialist, Dr. Gary Foster.  Gary practices in Colorado/Wyoming and writes regularly on his website about laser vision correction and cataract surgery.   – Randy


Cataracts Cause Decreased VisionCataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgery in the world and those with diabetes tend to develop their cataracts at a slightly younger age.  If you have diabetes, there are several additional factors to consider as you contemplate your cataract removal.

Careful planning and preparation can increase your chances for a successful cataract removal and restoration of your vision.

Cystoid Macular Edema

Surgery causes inflammation.  If the inflammation from cataract surgery reaches the back of your eye and causes swelling it is called “Cystoid Macular Edema” (CME).  This decreases the quality of your vision.  There are a number of treatments retina specialist can employ if this happens, but it is better to prevent it in the first place.

To help prevent this from happening I have most of my cataract surgery patients use two different anti-inflammatory eye drops.  In those without diabetes I have them start these drops the day before surgery and then use them for six weeks after surgery.

Diabetics have a greater tendency for swelling to reach the back of the eye after cataract surgery.  To provide an extra measure of protection, I have them start the anti-inflammatory drops one week before surgery so more drug is built up in the eye by the time of surgery.  In addition, I usually have them use the drops for two months afterwards.

Diabetic Macular Edema

Some with diabetes develop swelling in their macula even without surgery.  If retinal swelling is already present prior to surgery, it is best to postpone your surgery and have you see a retina specialist to treat the swelling first.

Depending on the status of your retina, I often have my diabetic friends see a retina specialist a month after the cataract surgery to make sure everything in on a perfect track for success


Eye infection after cataract surgery is a rare complication.  Some with diabetes are more prone to infection.  We use sterile technique during surgery and have you take antibiotic drops to decrease the chances of infection.

If you have an active infection somewhere else in your body, such as a foot ulcer, we will often postpone the surgery until it is clear the infection is well controlled to guard against the infection affecting your eye.

I perform cataract surgery for a number of friends each week that have diabetes.  I hope this education will help you better prepare for your cataract removal and help you obtain and protect your best vision.  If you have any further questions, please contact me or visit with your retinal specialist.

Gary J.L. Foster MD
Cataract and Laser Eye Surgeon
Board Certified Ophthalmologist
Fort Collins, Colorado 80525

  • H.Gene Markos
    Posted at 16:57h, 06 February Reply

    My wife has Mac gen and your articles have been very helpful. Right eye is wet and is being treated and is stabilized, the left eye is dry just as your article said. Her age is 84. Keep the information coming. Thank you.

  • Fred Samuels
    Posted at 00:14h, 05 April Reply

    Advances cases of dry ARMD, called geographic atrophy, may cause severe vision loss. At present, there is no treatment for any form of dry ARMD.

    I think you meant to say, “Advanced cases…”

    I think so anyway.

    No need to publish this, it was just an easy way to let you know about it

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