Choices to Make Regarding Cataract Surgery
There is only one effective treatment that is long-lasting. However in the early stages of cataracts there are treatments to improve the vision and assist the individual until the cataracts mature enough to warrant surgery. Those treatments include updated prescription for new glasses, anti-glare glasses, brighter lighting, and/or magnifying lenses. The criteria for deciding when cataracts should be surgically removed is when the individual has difficulty performing daily visual activities such as reading, driving, or watching TV. In other words quality of life is important. If the patient is not bothered by the lack of reading, driving, etc. then surgery may not be called for. In some cases, even though the patient may not feel the need for surgery, the cataract can interfere with diagnosis or treatment of other eye conditions and so the cataract must be removed.
Surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens. When a patient needs surgery in both eyes, removal of both cataracts at the same time is not protocol. They are done several weeks apart giving time for the first eye to heal.
Cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures performed in the U.S. It is considered one of the safest and most effective surgeries. About 90% of patients experience better vision after this surgery.
It is possible to delay the development of cataracts and it is not surprising to find out that it all has to do with lifestyle changes. The following are recommended as methods to delay the development of cataracts:
- Wear sunglasses
- Wear hats with wide brim
- Don’t smoke
- Practice good nutrition
These recommendations are relevant to age-related cataracts. There are other types of cataracts such as:
- Secondary – these may develop after surgery for other eye problems or due to other diseases such as diabetes. Steroid use is also a factor.
- Traumatic – injuries to the eye can cause cataracts and may not develop for years.
- Congenital – some babies are born with cataracts
- Radiation – exposure to radiation can cause cataracts
Once the decision to have cataract surgery has been made, another decision will come under consideration. You will have a choice of which kind of intraocular lens to have implanted. These intraocular lenses are also referred to as IOLs. Your doctor will help you evaluate what would best suit your needs according to your visual acuity and lifestyle. The following may be considered:
- Monofocal – your vision is corrected for seeing best at a distance, up close, or in-between. However not all distances will be addressed. You may still need to rely on glasses, for instance if your IOL’s worked for seeing at a distance you may need glasses for reading.
- Astigmatism-Correcting – the shape of your cornea has given you vision that is called astigmatism. Limbal relaxing incisions can be made to the cornea to change the shape and your visual acuity. There is also a Toric IOL that can be used for the same purpose. It is considered a premium lens and will incur a higher cost.
- Multifocal – This IOL gives the patient better vision at all distances. It will take a small amount of time to adjust as your brain learns to transition automatically from focusing up close, a short distance or a lengthy vision. Many patients will not need glasses at all when choosing the multifocal lens and it also may incur a higher financial consideration.
Dr. Jeffrey Minkovitz, cornea specialist and cataract surgeon at EPS, can assist you in evaluation of your own situation and decision making. His reputation is excellent. He has written many articles of interest and is a regular contributor to The Women’s Journal. His most recent article will be on the EPS website very soon.
The following links take you to the sources of information used for this blog and will provide further reading on the subject.