Questions from patients about this topic most often are related to what are cataracts, when to have cataract surgery, and what is the likelihood of a good outcome.
Inside the eye there is a lens that helps focus images of what you are looking at. A cataract is a cloudiness of this lens, and as its clarity is lost vision deteriorates. Cataract surgery entails the removal of your cloudy, natural lens material, and the replacement of it with a crystal clear implant which permanently remains within the eye. Basically surgery is indicated when either one of two events occur. The first is if the cataract itself is a threat to the health of the eye. This can happen for a number of reasons such as the lens becoming mature or if the cataract precludes the evaluation or treatment of another ocular conditions such as diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration. To optimally manage these problems you need to see clearly into the back of the eye and if a cataract is significant this can become difficult or impossible. In my practice 5% of the patients who I recommend having surgery are in this category. The other 95% have surgery because their vision is keeping them from doing what they want to do. This may be driving a car at night, reading small print, or watching TV. If you have a cataract and you do not fall into either of the above categories it is reasonable to postpone the surgery. Many patients in their later decades develop cataracts and often the surgery is not needed as their vision is not significantly affected and the cataract itself is not a risk to the well being of the eye.
After surgery most individuals do well and are pleased with their decision. Relatively new intraocular lenses allow certain patients to see well for distance and read without glasses. The cataract operation as it is currently performed has a high success rate, is safe, and most patients do not associate their surgery with a significant amount of discomfort.
This page was last updated on 11/14/23