How bad does my vision need to be before I consider surgery?
If your vision is 20/50 (20/20 is normal) or
worse because of a cataract, you may benefit from surgery.
If your vision is 20/40 and you have severe glare problems or require good
vision for work (for example, you drive for a living), surgery may help you.
But eyeglasses may also help. You may want to consider trying glasses
before having surgery.
If your vision is 20/40 or worse, have your
eyeglass prescription checked. And consider surgery only if eyeglasses fail to
Where should I go for surgery?
The most important factor to consider is the
skill and experience of your eye surgeon. If you need a recommendation for a surgeon, talk with your family doctor or
choose a convenient location. Then you can easily get follow-up eye exams and
be seen if you have problems.
Which procedure will be done and why?
Phacoemulsification (small incision surgery) is the most commonly performed type of cataract surgery. The surgeon uses ultrasound to break up the cloudy lens.
Other types of surgery are usually
reserved for special situations.
Ask your surgeon how experienced he or she is with the procedure. Ask if he or she will use a laser during part of the surgery. Also find out how many
procedures the surgeon has done and what the outcomes were.
Phacoemulsification has the highest success
Lenses that are placed inside the eye during
surgery (intraocular lenses, or IOLs) are used in many cataract
surgeries for adults and children. They help you depend on glasses less. The doctor may wait until a child is 1 to 2 years old before using an IOL.
Ask your doctor about the different types of lenses and what would be best for you. Some types may cost more than others.
Contact lenses placed on the eye’s surface are an option. But
they may be difficult for older adults and young children to use. Contact
lenses are used after cataract surgery in children younger than age
Thick cataract glasses were used in the past. They are not
used very often now that IOLs are available.
What should I do if I have cataracts in both eyes?
For adults, the reason to have cataract
surgery on the second eye are the same as for the first eye. The reason is that vision loss caused
by the cataract is interfering with your daily activities and adversely
affecting the quality of your life.
Cataract surgery is usually not
done on both eyes at the same time in older adults. Discuss with your doctor
how long you need to wait after the first surgery before you can have cataract
surgery on your other eye.
Most people will have the second
cataract surgery 2 to 4 weeks after the first surgery.