Is It Better to Have Cataract Surgery Early?

Jun 16, 2021

Many adults deal with changes in their eye health and vision as they age, some of which may be caused by the development of cataracts. Treating these changes requires cataract surgery, which is one of the most common procedures in the world. With surgery made safe and convenient by advancements in medicine and expert surgeons, people are being proactive about their eye health and treating their cataracts earlier than before. Here’s what you need to know about cataract surgery. 

What are cataracts?

Cataracts are caused by changes in the proteins of our naturally clear eye lenses. Over time, natural lenses can become thick and clouded, preventing light from passing through the eye and leading to impaired vision. If left untreated, cataracts can cause blindness. Fortunately, modern ophthalmology has made cataract surgery safe and widely accessible in the U.S.

Cataract symptoms

Unlike some eye conditions that may develop quickly, cataracts form over time. This often means that you may have a cataract developing on your eye before you notice it impacting your vision in your daily life. Cataracts may lead to blurry or cloudy vision and sensitivity to light. You may notice double vision in one eye, increased glare, and halos around lights. Colors may appear muted or yellowed and your vision may become dim. As a result, activities like reading and driving may be difficult, especially at night.

These conditions may be subtle at first but can become more debilitating over time. If you experience these symptoms, schedule an eye exam with an expert surgeon to determine if you have cataracts and if surgery is a good option.

Treatment and cataract surgery 

In the early stages of cataract development, you may not notice changes in vision. And any changes you do notice may be treated with prescription glasses. However, eye surgery is the only way to remove cataracts. If the symptoms of cataracts become noticeable in your daily life, surgery is the best treatment. You may benefit from cataract surgery on both eyes, but typically one eye will undergo surgery at a time. The surgery involves a precise corneal incision followed by the removal of the natural lens that has become clouded. This lens is then replaced with a clear artificial lens, called an intraocular lens (IOL). There are different types of IOLs, including lenses that improve presbyopia, astigmatism, myopia, and hyperopia. Your doctor will help you decide which is right for you before you have cataract surgery.

How does treatment help my vision?

Eye surgery is the only way to remove cataracts and prevent your vision’s deterioration. Cataract surgery can also help restore and improve your sight. 

Preventing vision loss

Removing the clouded lens in surgery makes colors appear brighter, decreases light sensitivity, and improves night vision. Replacing your eye’s natural lens with a premium IOL can provide sharper vision and may increase your ability to see near and far. Cataract surgery can correct vision problems, but wearing glasses may still be necessary after your eye has healed. 

When should I have cataract surgery?

If you are noticing symptoms and are considering cataract surgery, it’s likely safe for you to take some time to examine your options. However, you do not need to wait until you are suffering from significant vision impairment or loss to have cataract surgery. For some people, eye surgery can be intimidating. However, cataract surgery is typically comfortable and has a relatively short recovery period.

Previously, surgery would be postponed as long as possible given the difficulty of surgery, risks, and longer recovery. But medical advancements and modern techniques have made this surgery one of the safest operations performed in medicine today. Because of this, patients no longer have to wait until the cataract is extremely advanced. As soon as you begin to notice changes in your vision and activities of daily living, it’s not too early to find out if you may be a candidate for cataract surgery.

Benefits of early cataract surgery

Generally, cataract surgery on a hypermature cataract can be more difficult. This type of surgery carries more risks and may not be as successful. Removing a cataract sooner should reduce the length of surgery and the recovery period as well.

Improving eye health 

Cataract surgery can help improve glaucoma, a group of eye conditions that damages the optic nerve and can lead to vision loss and blindness. Mature cataracts typically become thick. This can cause the eye pressure to rise, which increases the risk of glaucoma. Surgery may prevent this pressure increase, and in some cases even impart a reduction in eye pressure. 

Better quality of life 

Cataracts complicate daily activities, such as driving, reading, working at a computer, and watching television. Waiting to have surgery means enduring impaired vision for longer than necessary. Promptly undergoing cataract surgery could help you avoid years of inconvenience and make a better quality of life possible. 

Is cataract surgery safe?

Cataract surgery is safe. The national success rate is over 99%, and complications from the surgery are rare. Advancements in medicine have made cataract surgery an outpatient process—the surgery itself lasts only about 20 minutes. 

Planning for your surgery

As an outpatient surgery, you will not need to stay in the hospital overnight. Since it is an eye operation, you should arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery. You may also benefit from having someone at home with you to help you with daily tasks as your eye heals for about a week following the surgery. After the procedure, you will return home wearing eye guards to help you heal. By following all of our instructions, like avoiding strenuous activities, wearing sunglasses outside, and not smoking, you should enjoy a safe and comfortable recovery.

When cataracts significantly impact daily living, eye surgery is considered medically necessary and often covered by insurance depending on your conditions. Coverage for cataract surgery varies by insurance provider. Generally, procedures such as an exam, necessary testing, and your surgery may be covered, while elective procedures may not be covered. Consult with your health and vision insurance providers to determine your coverage.

Take back control of your vision

While your eye health and vision may be compromised by cataracts as you age, surgery is an effective, safe treatment. There is often little risk to your eye health in temporarily postponing surgery, but pursuing cataract surgery has benefits—the most important of which is enjoying a better quality of life that you deserve. If you think you would benefit from cataract surgery, don’t wait. Call Columbus Laser and Cataract Center at 614-939-1600 today!