Medically reviewed on 17-August-2023
Cataracts – the term for when cloudy patches form on the lens of your eye – are a degenerative condition. That means, they will continue to get worse until treated.
While cataracts might seem harmless enough when they first appear, if left untreated they can lead to serious problems – like impacting quality of life, preventing sufferers from performing simple tasks and in some cases causing total blindness.
The long and short of it is this: there are absolutely no benefits to delaying cataract surgery, but postponing the procedure carries plenty of risks. As such, we always advise our clients to deal with cataracts in a prompt manner – before they start to become really problematic.
Read on, as we lay out the facts about cataract surgery, and why it’s better to press ahead than to procrastinate.
How quickly do cataracts progress?
This might seem like a straightforward question, but really there is no simple answer to how quickly cataracts develop.
Indeed, the rate of cataract progression will ultimately depend on the type of cataract – as well as several other environmental factors.
While most cataracts develop slowly, some are fast-growing: without visiting a qualified professional, it is near impossible to determine what type of cataracts you have. That’s why we recommend seeking advice as soon as the first symptoms of cataracts – blurred vision, faded colours, glare – emerge.
Nuclear sclerotic cataracts (which form in the lens’ nucleus) and cortical cataracts (which grow on the outside of the lens) both tend to grow slowly and become more of an issue as the sufferer gets older.
Meanwhile, posterior subcapsular cataracts – which develop on the cortex which sits underneath the lens capsule – can develop quickly and are more likely to affect younger people.
Equally, diabetes, radiation and eye trauma can also cause rapidly developing cataracts – while smoking and the use of corticosteroids can speed cataracts’ development.
If you think you may have recently developed cataracts, do not hesitate to seek advice. A qualified professional can quickly determine what type of cataracts you are suffering from, and help you reach an informed decision about the best course of action.
What are the risks of delaying cataract surgery?
In 2007, a review of 27 Cataracts studies appeared in the Canadian Medical Association Journal: its findings were that ‘patients who waited more than 6 months to receive cataract surgery experienced more vision loss, a reduced quality of life and had an increased rate of falls compared with patients who had wait times of less than 6 weeks.’
Ultimately, there are many risks to postponing cataract surgery. Some doctors may tell you it is OK to delay surgery until the cataract is causing you discomfort or inconvenience – but wouldn’t you rather deal with your cataract before it becomes problematic?
Moreover, so many of our patients tell us they didn’t realise how poor their eyesight had become – and how much their quality of life had been affected – until after their cataracts had been removed.
There are also certain dangers to consider. Especially if cataracts are fast-growing, your eyesight may begin to degenerate rapidly without you realising – putting you in sticky situations such as losing your independence to drive. What if you find yourself behind the wheel at night, and suddenly notice you can’t make out what’s in front of you?
If left untreated long enough, cataracts can even lead to partial or total blindness. That sort of risk simply isn’t worth taking – especially when cataract surgery is straightforward, quick and painless.
How long can cataract surgery be postponed?
At Optegra, we never advise postponing cataract surgery as the ideal course of action – but, do appreciate that sometimes there is no alternative option.
If you’re thinking of delaying cataract surgery, you should first speak to a qualified professional – who can assess your cataracts and give some guidance on how long it may be safe to postpone surgery. If your cataracts are in the early stage and are slow growing, you may be able to safely delay surgery for a couple of months without experiencing serious complications.
However, we should reiterate that there are no benefits to postponing cataract surgery, but several associated risks – our advice is always to proceed with cataract surgery as soon as possible.
At Optegra, we’ve endeavoured to make our pricing as transparent as possible – and are proud to offer standard cataract treatment from £2,395 per eye. If price is a concern, why not get in touch today and discuss one of our finance options? We offer a range of 12-24 month payment options, so you can spread out the cost of cataract surgery.
What are the benefits of cataract surgery?
Of course, the most perceptible benefit of cataract surgery is improved eyesight – but, this one simple change can bring several other unexpected benefits.
Many of our clients report to feeling a new lease of life after cataract surgery. Some say they suddenly enjoy activities like driving or sport – which had become tiring or worrisome due to cataracts.
Equally, so many of our clients reflect that improved vision following cataract surgery has left them less at risk of falling – and as such, has eased the stress associated with performing everyday tasks.
Ultimately, cataract surgery can lift your mood and improve your quality of life – so why wait?
What is the procedure and recovery process?
Cataract surgery is a straightforward procedure performed under sedation. It usually takes about eight minutes per eye – and for most people, it is totally painless.
You may experience some itchiness during the cataract surgery recovery process, but in most cases, this will disappear in the hours immediately following the operation. You may have to wear a protective eyeshield – and will have to abstain from strenuous activity for at least two weeks after cataract surgery.
If you’re thinking about cataract surgery, why not get in touch today? Visit our website to book a free virtual consultation or to order a free, detailed info pack; or give us a call on 08082567434. We’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about the procedure, and to assist in any way possible.
By Author: Alex J Shortt
Mr Shortt is a leading ophthalmic surgeon and an expert in the fields of cornea, cataract and refractive surgery.