The best time of year to have cataract surgery can vary depending on the patient’s individual circumstances, including their allergies. While cataract surgery can be performed year-round, there are certain factors to consider when scheduling the procedure. These factors include the patient’s overall health, personal preferences, and the presence of allergies.
At Optegra, patients can discuss their preferences and concerns with their cataract surgeon to determine the most suitable timing for their surgery. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure a safe and successful outcome while minimising any potential discomfort or complications associated with allergies or seasonal factors.
When is the Best Season for Cataract Surgery?
The best season for cataract surgery is simply when the patient needs it. Cataracts can significantly affect a person’s quality of life by causing blurred vision, difficulty reading, driving, or even recognising faces. As a result, the primary consideration when scheduling cataract surgery should always be the patient’s eye health and the progression of the cataracts. Consider the below when deciding the best season for cataract surgery:
Patient’s Health and Readiness: The most crucial factor in determining the timing of cataract surgery is the patient’s overall health and the progression of their cataracts. Cataracts develop gradually over time, and surgery becomes necessary when they significantly impair vision and affect daily life activities. The surgeon will assess the patient’s eye health and recommend the appropriate time for surgery.
Seasonal Allergies: Hay fever for example, can be a consideration when scheduling cataract surgery. Allergies can cause eye discomfort, redness, itching, and excessive tearing. These symptoms may interfere with the healing process and comfort after surgery. While allergies can be a concern, they are generally not a reason to delay cataract surgery. Patients can work with their consultant to manage allergy symptoms before and after surgery.
Climate and Weather: Climate and weather conditions can occasionally affect eye comfort, particularly in very dry or windy conditions. However, whatever the weather, be assured that your surgeon will ensure you are comfortable at all stages of treatment.
Personal Preferences: Some patients may have personal preferences for the timing of their surgery. They may prefer to have the procedure during a specific time of year when they have more flexibility in their schedule or when family members can provide support during the recovery period.
So, while there is no absolute best time of year to undergo cataract surgery, there may well be personal factors that can mean treatment at a specific time of year would be best for the patient.
Spring Allergies Can Cause Increased Irritation
Pollen allergies can irritate the eyes and potentially require management prior to upcoming cataract surgeries.
Here are some points to consider when scheduling surgery:
Allergic Conjunctivitis: Pollen allergies can lead to allergic conjunctivitis, commonly known as hay fever. This condition can cause eye irritation, itching, redness, and excessive tearing. For individuals with cataracts, these symptoms can exacerbate existing visual discomfort and make it more challenging to cope with blurred vision caused by cataracts.
Timing of Surgery: Seasonal pollen allergies may make some individuals hesitant to schedule cataract surgery during the peak allergy season. The concern is that allergies could interfere with the healing process after surgery and potentially increase post-operative discomfort. Your surgeon will ensure your symptoms are carefully managed before and after your surgery.
Post-Surgery Comfort: For those who have severe eye allergies and undergo cataract surgery during a non-allergy season, the absence of pollen-related eye irritation can contribute to a more comfortable post-operative recovery. The lack of allergy symptoms can make it easier to follow post-operative care instructions and minimise the risk of complications.
Sun Exposure Can Increase the Risk of Cataracts
Sun exposure can raise the risk of developing cataracts and exacerbate symptoms caused by cataracts. Here are some points to consider:
Increased Risk of Cataracts: Prolonged and excessive sun exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, particularly UV-A rays and UV-B rays, is a known risk factor for cataract development. UV rays can damage the proteins in the eye’s lens over time, leading to the formation of cataracts. Everybody, including people with cataracts, should take precautions to protect their eyes from UV radiation.
Exacerbation of Cataract Symptoms: Increased sun exposure can worsen the symptoms of cataracts. Bright sunlight can cause glare, halos, and increased difficulty with vision, which are common cataract-related issues. This can be particularly problematic for individuals who are waiting for cataract surgery, as it can impact their daily activities and quality of life.
Advantages of Getting Cataracts Removed in Summer
While increased sun exposure can exacerbate cataract symptoms, there are potential advantages to having cataracts removed in the summer:
Better Visibility: The summer months typically offer more daylight hours and brighter natural light conditions. This improved visibility can be beneficial during the recovery period after cataract surgery, allowing patients to adapt to their new, clearer vision more quickly.
Outdoor Activities: Summer is a popular time for outdoor activities and holidays. Getting cataracts removed in the summer can enhance the enjoyment of outdoor pursuits by reducing the visual limitations and discomfort associated with cataracts.
UV Protection: After cataract surgery, the eye’s natural lens is replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). Many modern IOLs have built-in UV protection, which can be advantageous during the summer when UV exposure is higher. This added protection can help reduce the risk of further UV-related eye damage.
Consider the Dry Air That Winter Brings
Dry air during the winter months can also be a good time to consider cataract surgery.
Considerations of Cataract Surgery in Winter
Lower Risk of Allergies: Winter is typically a season with lower pollen levels, which can be beneficial for individuals with seasonal allergies. Allergy-related eye symptoms can exacerbate eye discomfort and pose challenges during the recovery period after cataract surgery. Having surgery in the winter, when allergies are less active, may reduce the risk of such complications, particularly for those with severe seasonal eye allergies.
Reduced Outdoor Activity: Winter weather often keeps people indoors, which can limit exposure to environmental factors that might cause eye irritation and infection. This reduced outdoor activity can be advantageous during the immediate post-operative period when patients need to take extra precautions to protect their eyes.
Dry Air and Indoor Heating: The dry air associated with winter, both outdoors and indoors due to heating systems, can lead to increased dry eye. Dry eye symptoms, such as watering eyes, blurred vision, and a gritty feeling, can be uncomfortable and may influence the recovery process after cataract surgery.
Limited Sunlight: Winter days are shorter, and natural sunlight is less intense compared to other seasons. Adequate lighting is important for reading, adjusting to the new intraocular lens (IOL), and preventing falls. Patients may find it more challenging to adapt to their improved vision during the winter months. To avoid this, ensure adequate lighting in the house, such as the use of angle-proportioned lamps when reading.
Can I Have Cataract Surgery With a Cold?
Having a cold does not necessarily preclude you from having cataract surgery, but it is essential to consider a few factors and discuss them with your surgeon before proceeding:
Health Status: Your overall health is a critical consideration before any surgery, including cataract surgery. If you have a mild cold with symptoms like a runny nose or a slight sore throat, it may not necessarily prevent you from having the surgery. However, if you have a severe cold with fever, chest congestion, cough, sneezing, or other significant symptoms, your surgeon may recommend postponing the surgery until you have fully recovered. This is because compromised immune systems, congestion, and unwanted movement can increase the risk of complications during and after surgery.
Anaesthesia and Medications: Cataract surgery involves the use of local anaesthesia, but you may also receive mild sedation or other medications. Your surgeon and anaesthesia team will need to evaluate whether it is safe to administer anaesthesia and medications given your current health condition. A cold may affect the way your body processes anaesthesia and medications, potentially influencing their effectiveness.
Recovery and Comfort: Having a cold can affect your comfort and recovery after cataract surgery. Congestion and a runny nose may cause discomfort and irritation, making the immediate post-operative period less pleasant. It can also make it harder to follow post-operative care instructions, such as avoiding rubbing your eyes.
Communication with Your Surgeon: It’s crucial to communicate openly with your surgeon about your cold and any other health issues. They will assess your condition and determine whether it is safe and advisable to proceed with the surgery or if it would be better to postpone it until you have recovered.
Catching a Cold After Your Cataract Surgery
People can catch a cold at any time, including after their cataract surgery. While this is nothing to be worried about, catching a cold after your cataract surgery can potentially complicate the recovery process and the medications given after cataract surgery. Here’s some key information about cataract surgery and colds:
Colds can cause symptoms such as a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, and coughing. These symptoms can lead to discomfort and irritation, making the immediate post-operative period after cataract surgery less comfortable. Your surgeon will help you manage your recovery period if you have a cold after cataract surgery.
Hygiene and Precautions: Colds are contagious, and practicing good hygiene, such as frequent handwashing and avoiding touching your face, is essential to preventing the spread of the virus. Following these precautions is especially crucial after cataract surgery to reduce the risk of introducing infection to the surgical site. Managing cold symptoms while adhering to these hygiene practices can be challenging.
Work with Your Surgeon to Find the Best Time for You
If you require cataract surgery and are concerned about the optimum time to schedule the procedure for your circumstances, Optegra can help. Our expert team and surgeons are available to answer your questions and address any concerns to ensure your treatment can be arranged for the best possible time to suit your medical condition and personal lifestyle. This will ensure the best possible outcomes and a comfortable cataract surgery recovery.
What next? Get in touch for free, no-obligation advice.
The process of cataract surgery has been advanced and refined over several decades. It is now among the most performed elective procedures in the world. With Optegra, you’re in safe hands. Our nationwide dedicated eye hospitals are the epitome of comfort, and you’ll be treated by one of our expert cataract eye surgeons. If you’re suffering from cataracts, why not contact us to see if we can help?
By Author: Shafiq Rehman
Mr Rehman is a highly acclaimed ophthalmologist with 27 years of experience.
Medically Reviewed Date: 28th September 2023