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When is the best time to have cataract surgery?

If you’re reading this, you probably either have a cataract or you know someone who does. As you may already know, a cataract is a clouding of the lens in your eye which is caused by a build-up of protein. This build-up may blur your vision and make lights appear bright or glaring. Over time a cataract will worsen, it may affect your ability to drive and eventually will obscure your vision completely.

So, when is the best time to have surgery? Here are some of the factors you may wish to consider:

When to opt for cataract surgery | How much should the cataract develop before having surgery?

The good news is you don’t need to wait. You may have heard that a cataract needs to mature or ‘’ripen’’ before you can have surgery. This is not the case. Modern technology can do wonderful things, including removing cataracts at any stage of development, although, it can become slightly more difficult to remove at a mature stage. Your optician will advise you whether your cataract meets the requirements for removal on the NHS.

Whilst you don’t need to wait, you also don’t need to rush; some people choose not to have surgery as they are still able to do their day-to-day activities with very few difficulties. Depending on the severity of your cataract, you may not currently qualify for surgery on the NHS. In which case, if you do wish to proceed with surgery, private surgery may be a consideration.

The importance of monitoring the development of your cataract over time

It is important to continue to monitor the development of your cataract with visits to your optician. Usually a cataract develops slowly over years, but in some cases, it can develop fairly rapidly. Think about how this future development may impact your daily activities.

If you drive, you need to be able to do so safely. When you have a cataract, you can find it very difficult to see clearly, especially at night due to the glare or ‘halo effect’ from oncoming car headlights and street lights. You must meet the vision standards for driving as set out by the DVLA. You can find more information about driving with cataracts by clicking here.

As well as driving, a cataract can impact your life in many ways. Do you have someone dependant on you? Are you able to carry out daily activities safely? Can you enjoy reading or watching the telly? Being able to do day-to-day activities is important for most peoples’ quality of life. Struggling to do everyday jobs or activities due to having a cataract is one of the main reasons people choose to have surgery.

Cataract facts

Finally, here are some cataract facts which may help put your mind at ease when you do decide the time is right for cataract surgery:

For more facts about cataract click here.

Cataract surgery recovery time and time off work

If you do decide to go ahead with surgery, then you will need to consider how long it may take to heal, and how much time you may need to take off work. After surgery, there can be some mild discomfort, but recovery time is usually very short. Depending on your work environment you may be able to return within a few days and you can expect to be fully healed within approximately 2 weeks. Following this short period of recovery, many of our patients benefit from greatly improved vision. For more information on the DOs and DON’Ts following surgery click here to visit our cataract treatment page.

Cataract surgery time between both eyes

If you need cataract surgery for both eyes you will need two separate surgeries. The time between surgeries will depend on how long your first eye takes to heal, and your provider. At SpaMedica surgeries for both eyes are usually scheduled between 4 – 8 weeks apart.

Is now the right time for cataract surgery? Further guidance

These are just a few of the factors which may influence your decision to proceed with surgery. The choice of if and when to proceed is one only you can make.

If you are still struggling with the decision of when to have cataract surgery, speak to your optometrist for further guidance, or you can contact a member of the SpaMedica team by clicking here.

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