When should I have cataract surgery?
One of the most common questions I get is "When should I have cataract surgery?" The other way people ask this question: "Is my cataract ripe?" My view is that a cataract is "ripe" for surgery when the patient's vision does not meet their needs secondary to the cataract with a few caveats. A cataract usually gets firmer, thicker, and more visually significant with age. Since these items go together, most patients will have visual symptoms before their cataract gets dangerously thick. Therefore, we usually have the luxury of waiting for the patient to make the call that their vision is a problem. There is no absolute vision requirement for cataract surgery. Some of the earliest symptoms that a patient may have include difficulty with night time driving. This often manifests as blurry vision, glare, and difficulty safely driving at night. Vision can also be specifically blurry during reading or at other times. Blurry vision can also be due to other causes such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, and corneal dystrophies so it is important to have the eye examined to rule out those and other causes. Also, it is important that your doctor takes into account other conditions that may result in blurry vision before doing your cataract. Often, more subtle findings can be missed and the cataract can be removed with no corresponding improvement in vision. There are some cases where cataracts need to be removed for medical indications. Some possible reasons could be glaucoma caused by the cataract, the need for a corneal transplant, a poor view to the back of the eye, or that the lens is so dense that it represents a danger. Also, the vision can sometimes drop below a safe level for driving without the individual recognizing it because it is gradual in onset. Unlike many other medical conditions, cataract surgery is not an emergency, and a patient should be the one who ultimately makes the decision with the information provided by their ophthalmologist. Please do not hesitate to call our practice to schedule an evaluation for cataracts or other conditions of the eye.