What you need to know about preparation, surgery and recovery
Cataracts are one of the most common eye conditions, which occur when the normally clear lens of the eye becomes cloudy, restricting the amount of light that reaches the retina, leading to a decrease in vision. Common symptoms of cataracts include blurred vision, double vision, difficulty driving at night, and the appearance of halos and glares. Cataract surgery involves the removal of your cataract-damaged natural lens and replacing it with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL) that can give you clear vision. More than just improved eyesight, cataract surgery offers other unexpected benefits including…
Improved Quality of Life
Since cataracts develop slowly, it may take a while to notice that it is getting more and more difficult to read or drive at night time. Eventually, without treatment, the development of cataracts will prevent you from reading books, house cleaning, watching television, and doing hobbies like making crafts, knitting, woodworking or playing cards. As a result, you may gradually make small life changes and stop doing these activities you enjoyed doing without knowing why.
A 2013 study published by the US National Library of Medicine, found that quality of life increases by 36 percent after cataract surgery. Therefore, when you have your cataracts removed you can expect to find that your quality of life will improve as you will be able to do many of your favourite activities again, without poor vision holding you back.
Life with cataracts can be very lonely and isolating. Cataract sufferers may be embarrassed by their limited vision, leading them to avoid going out in public and seeing friends and family members. Also since many people with severe cataracts find that their poor vision prevents them from getting out and about on their own, vision loss has also been linked to depression.
After cataract surgery, patients often feel like they have their life back and find they feel much more optimistic about the future. Therefore, cataract surgery can often empower people to confidently re-enter the world, take back their lives and enjoy the things they used to.
Decrease Your Risk of Falls and Fractures
Cataract surgery helps to reduce the risk of accidents, falls and injuries. When you can see properly, you are less likely to suffer a falling injury. An unseen object in your path or change in terrain can be very dangerous. A fall or injury can have a negative long-term effect, especially on older individuals or those with health conditions that could hinder recovery.
A study published by the British Journal of Ophthalmology in 2012 examined Medicare patients over the age of 65 who were diagnosed with cataracts. Patients who had cataract surgery had a 16 percent decrease in the risk of hip fractures during the next year. If the patient had severe cataracts before the surgery, the risk of hip fracture decreased by 23 percent. These results suggest that cataract surgery is an effective intervention to reduce the risk of falls in elderly patients with cataract-related visual impairment.
Improve Your Chances of Living Longer
A long-term study in 2013 published online in JAMA Ophthalmology at the Stein Eye Institute of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, connected cataract surgery with longer survival for older individuals. The findings of this study showed that those who had cataract surgery had a 40 percent reduction in mortality risk compared to those who did not have cataract surgery. The study attributed this increase to a variety of factors, most notably better cardiac care and reduced risk of injuries due to improved vision. Additionally, a similar study published in the journal Ophthalmology in 2013 found improved vision led to better physical and emotional well-being, contributing to the longer life span.
Improve Your Long-term Brain Health
This may seem surprising, but the data backs it up. A recent study from England, ‘A 13-year follow-up of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing,’ has found that people who have had cataract surgery have a better mental function in later life. The report joins a growing body of research that suggests that taking care of vision has benefits for older adults in relation to their long-term brain health.
Researchers compared the rates of cognitive (thinking) decline before and after patients had cataract surgery. The findings showed that the rate of cognitive decline was slowed by 50 percent following cataract surgery over 13 years of follow-up. The rate of decline among people who had cataract surgery was slower after the surgery compared with beforehand and became similar to the decline among those with no cataracts. A possible reason for these findings is that improving a person’s vision with cataract surgery, enables the patient to stay active, social and independent, helping to preserve cognitive function into the patient’s senior years.
Loss of visual acuity due to cataracts robs many otherwise capable people of the ability to live independently. It’s difficult to live on your own when you can’t cook for yourself, read medicine bottles, drive for errands or safely navigate your home without tripping over or bumping into things. Driving at night is particularly difficult and can be dangerous if you have cataracts, since normal light sources, like street lights, headlights from oncoming traffic and lit signs, can impair visual performance and put you and your other drivers at risk.
Cataract surgery can remove these obstacles from patients’ lives and allow them to perform common daily tasks, like driving and reading, to once again enjoy true independence.
Book an Appointment with Auckland Eye
Although cataracts do not always require immediate removal, over time they will progressively worsen and decrease the quality of your vision. For these reasons that we have listed and more, don’t let cataracts keep you from staying independent and living your best life.
To book an appointment at Auckland Eye and speak to one of our ophthalmologists about the benefits of cataract surgery, call 0800 25 53 93.