Cataracts - Treatment Overview
Surgery is the only
effective method of treating vision loss caused by
Cataract surgery is a common
procedure that involves removing the clouded lens of the eye (the cataract).
The lens makes it possible for the eye to focus (see a picture of the
lens ). The lens can be replaced with an artificial
lens called an
intraocular lens implant (IOL). Sometimes an IOL is not used, and eyeglasses or contact lenses can compensate for the lens that is removed.
Surgery is often not needed or can be delayed for months or years.
Many people with cataracts get along very well with the help of eyeglasses,
contacts, and other vision aids.
The choices for
treating cataracts in children depend on how likely
the cataracts are to interfere with the development of normal vision.
Whether surgery is needed for an adult with cataracts depends on the
degree of vision loss and whether it affects quality of life and ability to
Cataracts: Should I Have Surgery?
What to Think About
Sometimes a cataract needs
to be removed because of another eye disease, such as
diabetic retinopathy or
macular degeneration. In some cases the cataract has
to be removed so that the eye specialist can treat the retina, the nerve layer
at the back of the eye.
Misconceptions about cataracts are common.
More and more medical centers have been built specifically
for cataract surgery. Marketing campaigns aimed at older adults may encourage
some people to have surgery when they do not really need it. Because of fear of
blindness or loss of independence, older adults may think they need to have
surgery even when their cataracts do not affect their quality of life. In many
cases, wearing eyeglasses or contacts and using other vision aids might be
appropriate and just as effective without any of the risks of surgery.
Only you can decide whether a cataract is affecting your vision and your
life enough to have surgery. If surgery is not going to improve your vision,
you may decide that surgery is not for you.