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When Is It Time For Cataract Surgery?

Man in living room reading newspaper smilingThe development of cataract is generally a slow, gradual process in the ageing process.  If you live long enough, guaranteed your skin wrinkles, your blood pressure increases, and you will develop a cataract.   When you and your eye doctor have an assessment, there are several factors that help decide when is the right time for cataract surgery.

Here are some of the factors that can aid your decision on whether your cataracts just need a glasses update or if cataract surgery is the better choice.

What is a Cataract?

A cataract is a clouding or opacity in the natural lens inside your eye.  It is not a growth or film over the front of the eye.  It can be caused by the ageing process, but other causes include eye injury, certain diseases of the eyes and body (e.g. diabetes), certain medications (e.g. steroids) or a person can be born with a cataract.

Cataracts affect your eyesight by increasing blurriness as well as increasing light sensitivity.   You may notice haloes around lights especially when driving at night, or fluorescent lights and glare from digital screens bother you more than they used to.

There are different types of cataracts, and they can affect your vision in different ways.   Nuclear sclerosis is one type of cataract in which the lens becomes more yellow then brown in severe cases.

This type of cataract increases myopia, causing rapid changes in glasses prescription.

Other common forms are cortical cataracts and posterior subcapsular cataracts, which increases glare and light sensitivity.

At some point, a person's vision is still too blurry even after an update in the glasses prescription.   The cataract causes loss of visual acuity, as well as loss of visual function due to “everything appearing hazy or cloudy”.

Contrast sensitivity is reduced and this causes visual impairment for daily activities.   A person who works as a driver may quite his job due to problems driving at dusk or at night due to glare from the cataract.

When visual acuity drops below a given specified standard for driving, surgery is recommended even if the patient does not complain about his or her vision.  Cataract surgery has been determined to reduce the incidence of motor vehicle accidents.

Modern cataract surgery has increased the chances of vision improvement and reduced the risk of complications and  vision loss due to surgery.

However surgical risks still exist, especially if a person has health complications or eye disease that can prevent the normal healing process needed to recover from surgery.

It is best to consult your optometrist to find out what is happening in your individual case to determine next steps.