13 Feb What are the risks of delaying cataract extraction surgery?
Cataracts are a common eye condition that affects millions of people worldwide, particularly as they age. The primary treatment for cataracts is cataract extraction surgery. However, some individuals may choose to delay this surgery due to various reasons. These may include concerns about the procedure itself or its cost. In this article, we will explore the risks associated with delaying cataract operation and the right time for undergoing cataract surgery.
What is cataract extraction surgery?
Cataract extraction surgery is a highly effective and safe procedure designed to restore clear vision for those suffering from cataracts. The surgery involves the removal of the cloudy lens from the eye and the insertion of an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) to replace it. There are various types of cataract surgery, including traditional extracapsular extraction and the more modern phacoemulsification.
What are the risks of cataract operation?
It’s crucial to understand that the cataract operation itself carries minimal risks when performed by a skilled ophthalmologist. Complications are rare, and patients often experience significant improvement in their vision shortly after surgery. That said, no surgical procedure is entirely risk-free, and cataract extraction surgery can pose the following risks:
- Infection: Delaying cataract surgery may increase the risk of infection. This is because post cataract surgery there can be a weakening of the eye’s natural defence mechanisms and if proper care is not taken post-op can lead to infection. Infections can be challenging to treat and may result in vision loss if left untreated.
- Increased difficulty: As cataracts progress, they can become denser and more challenging to remove. This can lead to a more complex surgery and potentially increase the risk of complications.
- Vision impairment: The longer cataracts are left untreated, the more they can interfere with daily life. Impaired vision can affect one’s ability to drive, read, or perform other essential tasks, potentially compromising overall quality of life.
- Falls and accidents: Poor vision due to cataracts can also increase the risk of falls and accidents, which can have severe consequences for older individuals. Timely cataract surgery can help prevent such mishaps.
When is the right time for cataract surgery?
Now that we have discussed the risks of delaying the procedure, let’s discuss the right time to undergo a cataract operation. The timing can vary from person to person and is typically determined by the impact of cataracts on daily life. Here are some factors to consider:
- Visual impairment: If your cataracts significantly hinder your ability to perform routine activities such as reading, driving, or recognizing faces, it may be time for cataract surgery.
- Lifestyle disruption: Cataracts may start interfering with your quality of life, causing frustration and inconvenience. This is a sign that you should consider undergoing the procedure.
- Safety concerns: For older adults, poor vision due to cataracts can increase the risk of accidents, such as falls. If your safety is compromised, it’s advisable to seek surgical intervention.
- Medical recommendations: Consult with your ophthalmologist. They can assess the progression of your cataracts and provide guidance on the right time for surgery based on your individual needs and circumstances.
In summary, the risks of delaying cataract extraction surgery are real and can lead to various complications, including infections, increased surgical difficulty, vision impairment, and accidents. While cataract surgery itself is generally safe, timely intervention is crucial to prevent these risks and maintain a good quality of life. To determine when is the right time for cataract surgery, consult with your eye specialist, who can provide personalised guidance based on your unique situation. You must know that even though there are claims that certain eye drops can cure cataracts, there is a lack of convincing evidence to prove this.