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Rancho Mirage, California 92270

How to Fix a Floppy Iris After Cataract Surgery

Do you need to have cataract surgery? If you’re an older man with prostate problems, you may not realize that this increases your risk of cataract complications due to floppy iris.

Even though these conditions are not directly correlated, medications used to treat an enlarged prostate can result in complications like floppy iris syndrome and iris prolapse during cataract surgery. Although women cannot suffer from enlarged prostates, they can still develop floppy iris syndrome as well due to other reasons.

Keep reading to learn how to fix a floppy iris after cataract surgery.

What is Floppy Iris Syndrome?

The iris is the colored part of your eye. It expands and contracts to close and open the pupil in reaction to the brightness of lights. Floppy iris syndrome can result in iris damage, a complication of cataract surgery that affects the iris.

diagram of anatomy of human eye

Although this condition is rare, it can be sight-threatening if it’s severe. It’s estimated that 0.5 percent to 2 percent of patients who undergo cataract removal will experience floppy iris syndrome.

In most cases, this is linked to using medication for BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia). While men are more prone to developing floppy iris syndrome, women can also develop IFIS (Intraoperative Floppy Iris Syndrome) after using hypertension medication or Flomax.

A doctor may prescribe the medication to aid in passing kidney stones and urinary retention. Symptoms associated with floppy iris syndrome include a floppy iris and excessive constriction of the pupil. Another symptom of floppy iris syndrome is iris prolapse. An iris prolapse can occur through the primary and secondary cataract incisions.

What are the Side Effects of a Floppy Iris?

An adverse side effect of a floppy iris is direct transillumination. Direct transillumination refers to light shining straight through the damaged areas of the iris.

When this happens, it’s the reason that patients with a floppy iris experience increased symptoms of glare. When you see severe glare, you can no longer tolerate bright lights.

Glare also makes it impossible to drive at night or go outside in the sun without wearing dark sunglasses. Other possible side effects of a floppy iris include:

man sitting at desk with head in hand

  • Poor vision
  • Loss of sensitivity to contrast
  • Having an unsightly iris

Flomax Use and Cataract Surgery

Flomax is an oral drug used to treat an enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hypertrophy. Many older men suffer from enlarged prostates.

The medicine is in a class known as alpha-1 blockers and helps to restore normal urination function. Flomax can have an unintended impact on your iris muscles during cataract surgery, complicating the procedure.

Even one dose of Flomax is enough to lead to floppy iris syndrome during cataract removal. Unfortunately, stopping your use of Flomax before having cataract surgery usually doesn’t minimize that risk from occurring.

Ideally, applying drops in your eyes helps the iris remain still and dilated when you’re having cataract surgery. This allows your cataract surgeon to see inside your eye.

However, this isn’t the case for patients who use Flomax. Instead, they develop a floppy iris, which causes the iris muscle to become excessively flaccid.

During cataract removal, your surgeon will remove the clouded, natural lens found beneath your iris. For IFIS patients, the pupil progressively constricts, causing the larger iris to block the cataract.

Also, a floppy iris can slip out of its normal position when the cataract is being removed. Both situations make it more difficult to remove the natural lens and implant a new intraocular lens in its place.

If a surgeon doesn’t consider the effects of Flomax on a cataract patient, complications like floppy iris syndrome are likely to occur. Other medications that may induce a floppy iris are prescription drugs that treat glaucoma, diabetes, and hypertension.

In many cases, the things that cause the pupil to constrict and become smaller result in floppy iris syndrome.

Repairing a Floppy Iris

The iris shows damage as it’s an incredibly sensitive part of the eye. Even when visual dysfunction from having a floppy iris is mild, you may still have concerns about the appearance of your eye.

woman rubbing her eyes

If this is the case, you can have your iris repaired for the management of glare symptoms. There are two types of iris surgeries: iris repair and iris prosthesis.

The method used to fix your iris will depend on how healthy the remaining tissue is and the extent of the iris that’s suffered damage or been lost. If your iris root is healthy, you can manage defects by using sutures to reconnect the damaged areas in the pupil, sphincter muscles, and iris.

Reconnecting the damaged areas will help you achieve better vision while treating existing problems with glare. During the procedure, your iris is also reshaped and sculpted to give your pupil a round shape.

Your surgeon may have to remove a small amount of the existing iris to improve its appearance in some situations.

Your eye will look more natural, and more importantly, you’ll be able to see very well with reduced glare. By repairing a floppy iris, you’ll finally be able to achieve the clearer vision you’ve been waiting for after having cataract surgery.

Do You Think You Have a Floppy Iris?

If you have poor vision, increased symptoms of glare, and don’t like how your eye looks after having cataract surgery, you may have a floppy iris. A floppy iris can make it increasingly difficult for you to complete everyday activities, especially in bright light, negatively impacting your quality of life.

If your quality of life is suffering, undergoing a second surgery to fix your iris may be the best solution. Request an appointment at Desert Vision Center with Dr. Tokuhara in Rancho Mirage, CA, and find out if repairing a floppy iris after cataract surgery could help you get your life back.

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35900 Bob Hope Drive
Suite 175
Rancho Mirage, California 92270

Phone: (760) 340-4700