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Does the time come when a person waits too long to have a cataract removed?

The timing on cataract removal is a very personal decision. I usually advise patients to wait until their vision is frustrating on a daily basis. Some patients are more tolerant of visual dysfunction than others, but the important message I try to convey is that for the most part, cataracts should be removed when they are producing visual frustration, and not necessarily because of an arbitrary external measuring point such as visual acuity or degree of opacity as measured by our examining microscopes.

As a cataract matures, it does become denser and incrementally more difficult to remove. This requires more energy and may lead to prolonged inflammation or even intraoperative complications. And there are times where a cataract can induce glaucoma or impair our view of the retina, and under those circumstances, your ophthalmologist may advise cataract surgery even if you are not particularly visually symptomatic. Ultimately, a patient and their ophthalmologist must work together to weigh the risks of surgery against the likely visual benefit.

Answered by: James M. Heltzer, MDDr. James M. Heltzer

Categories: Cataracts; Eye Surgery

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Answered: Apr 25, 2012

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