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When is the "right time" to have cataract surgery?

There are a lot of myths out there about cataract surgery and I find many of my patients seek advice from me about when is the appropriate time to have cataract surgery. Cataracts, to remind you, are when the lens of your eye becomes progressively cloudier with age resulting in blurry vision, even with glasses.

For most people, I tell them the decision when to have the surgery is up to them; when the vision is bad enough that it stops them doing their daily activities and when it bothers them enough, then they will be the ones asking me to do the surgery, not the other way around.

Less commonly, I will advise patients that having their surgery sooner might reduce the risk of complications. This might be the case if the cataract is becoming very thick and dense which makes it harder to remove. Or you might have another co-existent eye problem which the cataract or the cataract removal affects. Laser cataract surgery which uses a low heat femtosecond laser to do the initial fragmentation or as one of patients put it "mushing" of the cataract can be helpful with thicker cataracts. Age hardly ever is a factor- the oldest patient I have performed cataract surgery on was 98 and on one afternoon, everyone I was operating on was more than 90 years old!

In the end, you and your eye surgeon should discuss when the appropriate time to do your cataracts based on the risks versus benefits to you.

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