Do you know the issues to consider before cataract surgery? A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most are related to aging and are very common in older people, although younger people can have them as well. By the age of 80 more than 1/2 of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.
Cataracts can be present for a long time and never require surgery, but when the cloudy film affects the vision in such a way as to hinder daily living activities, surgery is usually recommended. In the U.S. there are more than 3.5 million cataract surgeries every year, making it one of the most common surgeries in the U.S.
What are the benefits of cataract surgery?
When your vision is impaired, you are likely making changes in your lifestyle to compensate for poor vision, whether it’s needing more light when reading or giving up driving at night. Studies show that vision loss can lead to depression.
In addition to vision improvements, cataract surgery can have the following benefits:
Improve your quality of life.
Cataracts can make it harder for you to participate in activities you enjoy, such as reading. They can also prevent you from doing tasks that are an important part of being independent, such as driving. A 2013 study found that quality of life improved by 36% for those who had cataract surgery, compared to those with cataracts who did not have surgery.
Decrease your risk of falls and fractures.
As we age, falls become more common and dangerous, and sometimes even lead to death. Vision loss is a major contributing factor for falls. A 2012 study found that Medicare beneficiaries (age 65 and over) who had cataract surgery had a 16% reduction in the odds of hip fracture one year after the surgery. For patients with severe cataracts, the surgery reduced the likelihood of hip fracture by 23 percent.
Improve your chances of living longer.
A long-term study, published in 2013, found that cataract surgery was associated with significantly better long-term survival of older people. The study found a 40% decrease in mortality risk for people who had cataract surgery, when comparing them with those who didn’t have it.
Will you still need glasses after the surgery?
Although the procedure generally includes the insertion of a new lens, it is possible that you will still need glasses after surgery. Surgery does not always provide corrected vision itself, but it can make it possible to wear glasses effectively for pre-existing eye problems.
Before the surgical removal of this cloudy lens, it can be difficult to find glasses that offer ample help. On the other hand, with recent developments in the plastic lens that is surgically inserted, some vision problems are correctable during the surgery, allowing you to forgo glasses.
Questions for your medical team.
Ask your doctor these questions to help you decide how and when you would like to move forward:
When should you have the surgery?
- Do I really need the surgery now?
- Is there any advantage to doing it now?
- Is there an advantage to waiting?
- If I need surgery in both eyes, how far between each eye’s procedure?
Which procedure should you have?
- What surgical options are available?
- What are the advantages, risks and complications of each method?
- How expensive is each method? Will insurance cover any of the cost?
- What are the options for anesthesia? Is full sedation possible (if you desire)?
- Are there any choices for lenses? What are the pros and cons of each option?
- How many of these procedures have you (the doctor) performed?
How to prepare.
- What should I do to prepare for the surgery?
What will the recovery look like?
- How long is the recovery time?
- What are the limitations to activities after the procedure? Working? Exercising? Driving? Flying?
- How should I deal with bright lights and glare after the surgery? For how long?
- After the procedure, how much help will I need immediately after? In the following days?
What about future vision needs?
- Will I still need to wear glasses or contacts?
- If I will be wearing contacts after, how soon can I start wearing them again?
NOTE: This post was written by a Zaggo team member.