When do you need cataract surgery?

Modern cataract surgery is truly a wonderful operation where the cloudy or over-sized human lens inside the eye is removed and replaced with a life-long implant that gives you clearer, sharper and more vibrant distance vision, or it saves you from having an attack of blinding angle closure glaucoma. It is the commonest operation carried out in the NHS and has also become safer with advances in technology and the use of antibiotics inside the eye at the end of the procedure to reduce the risk of sight-threatening infection to less than 1 in 1000.

When is a cataract ready for surgery?

I often get asked, “when will my cataract be ready or ripe for surgery.”

The truth is that modern cataract surgery means that the timing of surgery is usually down to you.

We all get cataracts as we get older. This discoloration and growth of the human lens mean it is no longer clear like a window but rather becomes yellow, then green, brown and eventually white reducing the amount of light getting to the retina.

In the past, a cataract did have to be “ripe” before surgery could be undertaken, but modern cataract surgery can be done at any time, and the decision to go ahead with surgery should be based on how the cataract affects you in your day to day life. Age is neither an indicator or a barrier to surgery. If your vision is not good enough for you to do the things that you need to do or enjoy doing on a day to day basis, then that is the time to have a cataract operation.

Everyone’s life, hobbies, work and personal pursuits are different. If you fly aeroplanes for a living or simply want to stay within the legal limits for driving or thread a sewing needle, draw or paint, use computer screens all day or simply want to watch the world go by out of your window then the right time to have cataract surgery is different for different people. Cataracts don’t define you. A good cataract surgeon will discuss your day to day activities with you and advise on surgery and the best implant for you. I would be very pleased to discuss your cataract surgery options with you. Remember, just having cataracts doesn’t necessarily mean that you need an operation.