Is Cataract Surgery Always Necessary?
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, over 24 million Americans age 40 and older have a cataract in one or both eyes. Cataracts are typically age-related.
However, other factors increase your risk for early cataracts, like diabetes, high blood pressure, previous eye injury, and earlier eye procedures. If you’ve been diagnosed with cataracts, you may wonder if it’s always necessary to undergo cataract surgery.
Keep reading to learn more about cataracts, tips for living with cataracts, if cataract surgery is always necessary, what happens during cataract removal, and the benefits of having cataract surgery.
What are Cataracts?
Cataracts occur when the proteins in your eye break down and build up on your lens, clouding your vision. You might not have any symptoms of cataracts at first. But as time goes by, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Blurred or foggy vision
- Halos and glare
- Sensitivity to light
- Poor night vision
- Colors appearing faded
- Double vision in one eye
- Frequent prescription changes
- Need for brighter lighting for up-close tasks
Tips for Living with Early-Stage Cataracts
Cataracts often develop gradually, so you can live with mild cataracts that are still in the early stages of development. If you’ve noticed a slight decrease in your vision, the following tips can help you hold off cataract surgery.
- Update your contact lens or glasses prescription to maintain your eyesight
- Invest in magnifying glasses for reading
- Get anti-glare sunglasses to alleviate the discomfort caused by glare due to cataracts
- Place lights behind you when knitting, cooking, or reading to minimize glare
- Use brighter lighting around your house. Bright indoor lights will help you with up-close activities
Although rare, some people never reach a point where cataracts impact their vision. If cataracts are not interfering with your everyday life or preventing you from doing the things you love, cataract surgery is not always needed.
But for most people, cataracts usually worsen with time and cause significant vision loss. It may reach a point where the temporary measures above no longer help.
Most cataract surgeons recommend cataract surgery once your cataracts interfere with your ability to participate in daily activities or do the things you love. If your quality of life starts to suffer, it’s usually a sign to consider cataract surgery.
For instance, your cataract can make reading, driving, cooking, watching TV, and enjoying your hobbies difficult. Cataracts left untreated can eventually lead to total blindness.
The good news is that surgery can help restore vision loss due to cataracts.
Cataract surgery is the only way to treat cataracts effectively and see clearly once more. During your cataract procedure, your surgeon will begin by numbing your eye with anesthetic drops to ensure you won’t feel any pain.
You may also receive a mild sedative to relieve any nervousness or anxiousness. Your surgeon will then make a small tunnel in your cornea with either a laser or a keratome.
Through this tunnel, they will break up the cloudy natural lens into smaller fragments using ultrasonic energy before removing them with gentle suction. Next, your surgeon will implant a clear artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL) to replace your natural lens.
They will leave the incision to heal independently without stitches or sutures. Cataract surgery only takes about 15 minutes to complete.
The same-day procedure also has a short recovery period. Most patients are back to their daily routine within a day or two.
If you have cataracts in both eyes, you’ll usually have the second eye completed once the first one finishes healing. You can have cataract surgery performed in one of two ways: manually or with a laser.
The surgeon creates incisions in your cornea using a thin blade during traditional cataract surgery. In laser-assisted cataract surgery, your surgeon uses a laser to create the necessary incisions.
Both methods have high success rates and low complication rates. A surgeon offering laser and manual cataract surgery will discuss the pros and cons and recommend the best procedure for you.
Choosing an Intraocular Lens
Before cataract surgery, you must choose an intraocular lens to replace the now cloudy natural lens. Patients can choose between basic, monofocal IOLs, or premium IOLs.
Standard intraocular lenses address vision problems at only one distance. You’ll continue to need to wear glasses or contact lenses at ranges that are not corrected.
Most patients who choose a monofocal lens select it to help them see better for distance vision. They then use reading glasses for up-close tasks like reading or driving.
If you choose a monofocal IOL during cataract surgery, it’s the only IOL covered by insurance.
Advanced Technology IOLs
Advanced technology lens implants correct vision at multiple distances, including near, far, and intermediate. Depending on the IOL you select, you can significantly reduce or even eliminate the need for glasses or contacts following cataract surgery.
Unlike a monofocal lens, advanced technology IOLs are not covered by insurance. There is an out-of-pocket cost associated with advanced technology lenses.
However, many patients find that the prices of these lenses are worth it because they provide better vision and reduced dependence on glasses and contact lenses. Your ophthalmologist will discuss the benefits of each IOL and help you choose one that fits your lifestyle and vision needs.
Benefits of Cataract Surgery
Some of the benefits of cataract surgery include the following:
- Restores your ability to see clearly
- It helps keep your eyes healthy
- Prevents severe injuries from slips, trips, and falls
- It gives you back your independence
- Allows you to live an active lifestyle
- Dramatically improves your quality of life
Cataract Surgery for Clearer, Healthier Vision
Has driving become unsafe because of disabling glare and halos? Are you unable to read or text?
Has golfing become more challenging because you can’t see the ball? These are some signs that it may be time for cataract surgery at Desert Vision Center.
Cataract surgery is highly successful and can give you the best vision you’ve ever had when performed by an experienced surgeon like Dr. Tokuhara. Do you suspect you have cataracts or have your cataracts become bothersome?
Schedule your cataract screening at Desert Vision Center in Rancho Mirage, CA, to learn if it’s time for cataract surgery! Isn’t it time to see the world with crystal-clear clarity again?