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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.

Thank you for trusting your eyecare with us over the years.  The Foresight Eyecare team follows the government mandate to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.  After December 2020 announcements made by the Alberta Government, our clinic is following the revised Infection Prevention and Control policy by the Alberta College of Optometrists.

Patients interested in obtaining eye exam services or eye care products can be seen by appointment only.  Please call ahead, and staff will arrange an appointment time and ask COVID-19 screening questions.  If you have any symptoms of cough, fever, runny nose or shortness of breath, we ask that you call or e-mail us and do not attend the clinic for your scheduled visit.   Within the clinic, please wear a mask and use the hand sanitizer at reception.  Our clinic complies with the City of Calgary bylaw requiring mask covering over the age of two years old.  For patients who are unable to wear a face covering due to medical reasons, the patient can be scheduled for an appointment at a time when minimal number of other patients are in the clinic such as at the beginning or end of the day to ensure appropriate physical distancing requirements.

We are using disposable disinfectant wipes on all surfaces and devices such as front desk counters, chairs, handles in exam rooms and waiting room.  All eyewear that have been touched by patients are continually being sanitized.   Any toys and magazines are stored at this time.  Examination areas are being sanitized with hospital grade disinfectant.  Debit and credit cards but NO CASH payments will be accepted.

COVID-19 symptoms are not always obvious.  We want to fend off this pandemic and minimize risk to our patients and the Foresight staff as front line health workers.   Contact that is closer than 2 m (6 feet) is to be avoided, with barriers in place when this cannot be avoided. We choose to continue to do our work and cautiously take care of our patients with compassion, humility, gentleness, and patience.   It is a challenging and new experience for many of us, so let‘s support each other and prevent virus spread!  Beyond 2020, our focus is on take care of you and keeping Clean Hands, Clear Heads and Open Hearts.   For more information, please refer to the following web pages or phone Health Link 811.

Drs. Dianna Leong, Anh Bui, Andrew Chan