There’s no doubt that today’s advanced cataract surgery is one of modern medicine’s greatest success stories. It is the most common elective surgery among Medicare beneficiaries in the U.S., with approximately three million Americans undergoing the procedure each year.
The success rate, according to the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, is 98 percent or higher.
In recent years, there has been a steady drumbeat of research findings documenting the positive impacts of cataract surgery: Overall improvement in the quality of life, reduced risk of falling, fewer hip fractures, fewer car crashes; and even improved mental function and longevity. One study found that those who had cataract surgery had a 40 percent lower long-term mortality risk than those who did not.
An extra bonus is that cataract surgery is easier and more comfortable for patients today than ever before, with faster recovery time than in the past, due to improved technology and techniques.
The risk of complications associated with cataract surgery is very low. As with any potential operation, however, you’ll want to learn all you can about the procedure and determine if and when surgery may be right for you. When you have your consultation with your surgeon, be prepared to ask any questions you or your family may have of the doctor and staff. Questions about your surgeon’s experience and track record should be welcomed. (Coastal Eye’s surgeon, Lee Wan, MD, is a highly experienced surgeon who tracks his outcomes meticulously, and has documented success rates that exceed the industry benchmarks.)
Don’t neglect the other “experts”: Talk to your friends who have had cataract surgery. Ask them how it went, how satisfied they are with the results, what differences the surgery has made in their lives.
Check out the many other sources of reliable information for patients that are just a click away, such as the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s site at www.geteyesmart.org; and the National Eye Institute at www.nei.nih.gov.
Last but certainly not least, is the most important person, yourself. Should you schedule cataract surgery now, or put it off? It depends on how much your cataracts are bothering you. Cataracts cause reduced vision: blurriness, sensitivity to glare, difficulty seeing fine detail or colors, even with glasses.
Here are four questions to ask yourself, suggested by the American Academy of Ophthalmology:
Are your cataracts impacting your daily or occupational activities?
Is your reduced vision affecting your ability to drive safely, especially at night, even with glasses?
Is your reduced vision interfering with your ability to do the activities you enjoy, even with glasses?
Can you manage your cataracts in other ways for the time being, such as brighter lighting, updating your glasses prescription, polarized sunglasses, magnifying lenses, etc.?
Coastal Eye Specialists has a variety of educational videos on cataracts and cataract surgery available on our website.