One of the most common uncertainties surrounding cataracts and cataract surgery is deciding when it’s the right time for surgery. Patients often wonder how they’ll know when their cataracts are ready to be removed; meanwhile, others worry about whether it’s possible to wait too long for cataract removal. The simplest answer is this: The right time for surgery is when your cataracts have begun to interfere with your quality of life, and glasses and/or contacts no longer satisfy your visual needs.
Of course, there are physical signs that Dr. Kerry Solomon and his team evaluate at the time of your cataract exam. These include the thickness of your cataract, as well as the results of your vision and glare tests. They’ll also check your refraction to determine if a stronger pair of glasses might correct your vision complaints—if a patient’s vision can be satisfactorily corrected with a new glasses prescription, surgery is likely not needed. However, all of this is only one part of the equation. Because, in the end…
It’s Really Up to You
With many other types of surgery, doctors and surgeons will evaluate a patient’s test results and make a definitive decision about whether a procedure is needed. Cataract surgery is different, because the way a patient experiences their own vision is a major factor in determining when it’s time for surgery. Dr. Solomon’s typical rule of thumb is that it’s time for surgery when the symptoms of your cataracts have begun to interfere with your work, hobbies, and overall quality of life, and glasses and/or contacts no longer satisfy your visual needs. These symptoms can include things like glare from headlights and streetlights when driving at night, or blurred vision that impacts your ability to enjoy hobbies like golfing, reading, sewing, cooking, watching television, and more.
Too Early? Too Late?
But is there such a thing as having cataract surgery too early or too late? Not exactly. While cataracts can be removed at any stage of development, Medicare and private insurance carriers will only cover the procedure when cataracts have begun to impact a patient’s life as described above. On the other hand, while cataract surgery does not pose any direct threat to a patient’s health, cataracts that have been allowed to become extremely thick or “mature” can be more difficult to remove. This causes the procedure to take longer and be more strenuous on the eye than usual. The real risk of postponing cataract surgery, though, is simply to your quality of life. Many of our patients tell us that their one regret is waiting as long as they did to have cataract surgery. In fact, Dr. Solomon’s research has shown that patients wait, on average, five years longer than necessary to have cataract surgery. That’s five years of struggling needlessly with the frustrations and limitations of poor vision!
If your vision has started to impact your ability to enjoy life the way you once did, it’s time to schedule a cataract evaluation. At this no-obligation appointment, Dr. Solomon and his staff will evaluate the results of their exam, along with your concerns about how your vision is impacting your life. Together, they’ll help you determine the right time for cataract surgery, to make sure you don’t spend any more time than necessary being limited by poor vision.