With the worldwide life expectancy steadily increasing, and eye surgery technology becoming more advanced by the day, cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries in the world. While not everyone needs cataract surgery when they get older, people with cataracts (clouding of the normally clear lens of the eyes) are advised to do so if it considerably affects their vision. Many people are wary about any surgery involved with their eyes, because they fear a botched surgery more than they desire the results a successful surgery brings.
These fears are often misguided, however, as cataract surgery has a success rate of over 98 percent, and a successful cataract surgery can mean decades of improved eyesight. Despite this, patients who can barely see ask if cataract surgery is worth the risk. Not including the obvious “better eyesight,” I always tell clients the following two benefits of cataract surgery:
- Improved Quality of Life
When people develop problems with their vision, it often becomes hard to remember how much their daily routines deviated since they had good vision. Simple tasks like taking pills or driving to the supermarket become infinitely harder when your eyesight is not perfect. Since cataracts usually develop over time, people often feel like nothing has changed even though they clearly have vision problems. There are plenty of other everyday quality of life benefits, like being able to see the television, or reading a clock from across the room, without any of the “blur” that comes along with cataracts.
Poor eyesight can also affect performance in sports, work, and other activities. While it might not seem like the biggest deal if your golf score goes up, or if you need to ask a coworker multiple questions about what is written on a board, small things can quickly add up. This can strongly affect self-confidence, and can make activities that used to make you happy simply become another stress in life. With the improved eyesight that cataract surgery usually brings, patients have the freedom to do they things they love without having to worry about their eyesight negatively affecting them.
- Longer Life Expectancy
A very common theme with many of my older patients is a resistance to the fact that their bodies are not as they once were. Over time, eyesight and other physical faculties start to struggle, even if your mental faculties are perfect. Time and time again, patients would rather pretend like their eyesight is perfect rather than receive the help they need. In most cases, this is just a quality of life issue as mentioned above, but the worse your eyesight gets, the greater your chances of being in an accident get. Poor eyesight increases the chance of getting into a car accident, which is one of the largest causes of fatalities in the US year after year. Drivers with poor eyesight are simply unequipped to drive a car safely if they are not wearing glasses or contacts. This problem is twofold with cataract patients, as their eyesight is often bad in conjunction with the blurriness of their cataracts, but they wear glasses thinking that they are doing enough to stay safe. Between car accidents and other sight-related injuries like falling down the stairs, people with cataracts have to remember that unless they get cataract surgery, they are placing themselves in incredibly dangerous situations every day.
If someone is suffering from decreasing quality of vision because of cataracts, cataract surgery can often improve their life and make it last longer. While many people are hesitant to do this surgery because of the risk involved, I believe that if your ophthalmologist recommends it, they are doing so for a reason. Cataract surgery is relatively low risk, and has benefits that positively affect almost every aspect of your life.