Cataracts are a common cause of visual loss. Evidence of cataracts is frequently present from the age of 50, with visually significant cataracts occurring in an increasing percentage of patients with increasing age. Currently there is no medical treatment to reverse or prevent the development of cataracts. When cataracts affect vision, the only way to see clearly again is to have them surgically removed.
Cataract surgery has undergone tremendous advances. A generation ago, cataract surgery was considered risky, required hospitalization, and was usually delayed for as long as possible. Modern cataract surgery is done as an outpatient and typically takes only 10 to 20 minutes to perform. It is extremely successful in most cases. Like all surgery, there are potential risks and complications which can occur.
Cataract surgery is recommended when:
- Poor vision affects the quality of life
- Glasses do not improve the vision adequately
- Cataracts are found to be the cause, or a significant cause, of poor vision
Evaluation of cataracts includes a discussion of symptoms, visual needs, and a complete eye exam. Once the need for surgery has been established, the eyes are measured with an ultrasonic (sound wave) device to determine the strength of the implant needed to restore good uncorrected vision. If both eyes need cataract surgery, the procedures are scheduled on separate days as a safety precaution.