Treatments and drugsBy Mayo Clinic staff
CLICK TO ENLARGE
The only effective treatment for cataracts is surgery.
When to consider cataract surgery
Talk with your eye doctor about whether surgery is right for you. Most eye doctors suggest considering cataract surgery when your cataracts begin to affect your quality of life or interfere with your ability to perform normal daily activities, such as reading or driving at night.
It's up to you and your doctor to decide when cataract surgery is right for you. For most people, there is no rush to remove cataracts because they usually don't harm the eye. Delaying the procedure won't make it more likely that you won't recover your vision if you eventually decide to have cataract surgery. Take time to consider the benefits and risks of cataract surgery with your doctor.
If you choose not to undergo cataract surgery for now, your eye doctor may recommend periodic follow-up exams to see if your cataracts are progressing. How often you'll see your eye doctor depends on your situation.
What happens during cataract surgery
Cataract surgery involves removing the clouded lens and replacing it with a plastic lens implant. The replacement lens sits in the same place as your natural lens and becomes part of your eye.
For some people, other eye problems prohibit the use of a replacement lens. In these situations, once the cataract is removed, vision can be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Surgery is usually done on one eye at a time, with a few weeks between surgeries. It's generally done on an outpatient basis, which means you won't need to stay in a hospital after the surgery. During cataract surgery your eye doctor uses local anesthesia to numb the area around your eye, but you stay awake during the procedure. Cataract surgery is generally safe, but carries a risk of infection and bleeding. Cataract surgery increases the risk of retinal detachment.
- Cataract: What you should know. National Eye Institute. http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/cataract/webcataract.pdf. Accessed April 12, 2010.
- Care of the adult patient with cataract. St. Louis, Mo.: American Optometric Association. http://www.aoa.org/documents/CPG-8.pdf. Accessed April 12, 2010.
- Wevill M. Epidemiology, pathophysiology, causes, morphology, and visual effects of cataract. In: Yanoff M, et al. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/194686199-3/0/1869/0.html. Accessed April 12, 2010.
- Cataract in the adult eye. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://one.aao.org/asset.axd?id=821cecfb-85c5-400d-a65f-7a9a727bc163. Accessed April 12, 2010.
- Acquired cataract. In: Ehler JP, et al. The Wills Eye Manual: Office and Emergency Room Diagnosis and Treatment of Eye Disease. 5th ed. Baltimore, Md.: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008. http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&NEWS=N&PAGE=booktext&D=books&AN=01337416/5th_Edition/3&XPATH=/OVIDBOOK%5b1%5d/METADATA%5b1%5d/TBY%5b1%5d/EDITORS%5b1%5d. Accessed April 14, 2010.
- Guercio JR, et al. Congenital malformations of the eye and orbit. Otolaryngologic Clinics of North American. 2007;40:113.
- Abel R. Cataract. In: Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2007. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/194686199-3/0/1494/0.html. Accessed April 12, 2010.
- Robertson DM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 24, 2010.