• sohraab yadav

Should I wait to have cataract surgery?

Updated: Apr 11

Cataract surgery phacoemulsification

Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed operation in the world. If we live long enough, we will all get cataracts eventually. It is also one of the most successful and safest procedures with 99% of patients getting better vision from it.

The results are truly life changing for the majority of patients. After surgery, patients usually notice an immediate benefit. Patients that couldn't drive their cars before can suddenly make the trips they missed and get their independence back. They can start reading and knitting once again. They can enjoy watching the TV and make the most of their expensive Ultra HD displays.

Patients often ask me whether their cataracts are ready for an operation now or whether they should wait to have them done. There is also a common misconception that cataracts need to mature, or be ripe enough, before doing surgery. With the NHS we have to make tough decisions about prioritisation with the most needy patients treated first. With cataract surgery we have certain criteria such as how poor the vision needs to be or other reasons to justify doing the surgery such as lowering the eye pressure. Limited resources mean that everyone will eventually get treatment but may have to wait for it even though they could benefit straight away. Cataract surgery is an elective procedure so there usually isn't any great urgency to be treated.

However, there is certainly no advantage to waiting. In fact, treating cataracts early usually leads to more straightforward surgery and a lower risk of complications. As the cataract matures it becomes harder to remove and surgery requires more ultrasound energy which can have consequences for the health of the eye. The more obvious reason for getting treatment early is that your vision will improve and you can go on living with better vision sooner. I always recommend that patients should be treated as soon as possible once they have started to notice symptoms from cataracts such as glare or their poor vision is interfering with their daily activities.

You can read more about cataract surgery on my dedicated webpage https://www.eyeguy.co.uk/cataract

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