The big question?

“Doc, do you think I should do this surgery now or can I wait?” “I have heard operation needs to be done only after cataract matures?” Two most common questions I am asked again and again in my practice. This could be because people are afraid of surgery and are looking for an excuse to avoid it. It could also be because of something they heard from their friends and colleagues. And I think both are true!

 “ Is it true that after cataract surgery I will have to take bed rest for 1 month. Few of these  questions are valid even today but many are not. Science is progressing by leaps and bounds making many our beliefs irrelevant while technology is making surgeries simpler and safer.  It is also interesting to note that not every question is easy to answer. The reason is pretty simple – Every individual is different and so is his body. So every question will have a different answer for every different person.

Why so, I will tell you but let’s first understand what is cataract. Simply said, the lens in our eye  which was clear and transparent at birth over the years turns opaque. And obviously such an opaque lens does not let the light enter our eye. Hence it is equally simple to understand why we can’t see with such a lens as we age.  It is like seeing through a glass that is grounded.  Everything looks blurred. Pretty scary it is uh!

The next question would be why it opacifies? Again the answer is pretty simple and straightforward. As we age our hair goes white, joints ache, and skin sags. So the lens too dulls and gradually opacifies. Yes it can be partly genetic and probably early, in those with diabetes but generally speaking it is seen around 60 and above that the lens starts to show changes. It is a gradual but steady progression.

Why we need surgery? Obviously we need  as nobody including me, likes to go blind. As of today surgery is the only treatment option available for us. But the good thing about it is, it is pretty simple, and in the hands of the experts almost without complications. You get to go home within a few hours after the surgery.


Four symptoms - Time to get Operated!

What is best time to  get operated for cataract? Should we let it mature and then operate?

The need to let the cataract mature (called ripening in parlance) used to be a necessity for surgery to be feasible. And it is not anymore, because of latest technology called phaco- emulsification. So the correct indication today for cataract surgery is dependant on you. The day you feel you are not able to enjoy your life, or you are struggling to watch tv or driving has become risky, it is time for you to go under the knife!

Interesting to note, is that at times patients do come to us with complaints of glare and halos at night when they drive. These symptoms might develop even before any changes can be picked up by me when I examine the patient eyes. So it is you who needs to decide when to get operated. As said above, the moment you notice vision problems, reach out to your ophthalmologist.

In fact, the more you delay the surgery the riskier and difficult the surgery is going to be. It is pretty difficult for the surgeon to remove your lens when it is hard forcing him to take bigger incisions.

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