Corneal Swelling Following Cataract Surgery

The back layer of the cornea is made up of endothelial cells which keep the cornea clear. All cataract surgery (even “perfect” surgery) does some damage to these endothelial cells. Most corneas have plenty of “extra” endothelial cells, so a small degree of endothelial cell loss from cataract surgery doesn’t usually cause any problem. However, occasionally, after cataract surgery, the endothelial cells don’t function well enough to keep the cornea clear, causing poor vision and often discomfort. The cells may recover over the first few months after surgery. If the cornea doesn’t clear, treatment options include drops to decrease swelling (saline-like drops) and corneal transplantation, either a partial thickness transplant (e.g. Descemet’s stripping endothelial keratoplasty [DSEK]) or a full thickness corneal transplant.