When is the right time to have cataract surgery?

Cataract Surgery

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In Australia, cataract is the commonest cause of moderate visual impairment. Each decade 1-1.5 million Australians undergo cataract surgery, and this figure is set to rise as our population ages over time.

Cataract surgery not only improves sight, but is also associated with reduced risk of falls and a significant reduction in mortality. Put simply, cataract surgery improves a person’s physical and emotional well being, it leads to optimism and improved confidence.

Whilst many older individuals have at some stage been told by their eye care provider that they have cataracts, fewer have had a discussion about the best time to have cataract surgery. This discussion not only requires a knowledge of a person’s symptoms, but it requires a detailed understanding of other, sometimes subtle, eye conditions, which may significantly impact on the timing of surgery. Certain conditions affecting the cornea (the eye’s clear window) or some types of glaucoma may dictate earlier cataract surgery than would be warranted if only the patient’s vision was taken into account. Failure to detect these subtle conditions may result in a greater risk of complications if cataract surgery is delayed.

In the following article, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), the World’s largest association of Eye Surgeons, provides excellent advice on the optimal timing of cataract surgery for prospective patients: When is the Right Time to Have Cataract Surgery?

An ophthalmologist is best placed to advise patients on the timing of surgery, and Dr Robaei offers individualised advice for each patient on the basis of their symptoms, as well as a detailed assessment of their ocular health, which may impact on the timing of cataract surgery.

Whilst many older individuals have at some stage been told by their eye care provider that they have cataracts, fewer have had a discussion about the best time to have cataract surgery.