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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Cataracts

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

Question: Over the past two years my vision has gotten progressively worse. I recently visited an ophthalmologist who told me I was developing cataracts. He then told me my visit was over, gave me a prescription which he said at best would give me 20/40 vision, and didn't seem to want to answer questions or give me further guidance. He did say many people live with cataracts for years before having anything done about them and when I decided to have something done, other of my vision problems could be corrected. He did not tell me anything about the surgery, how to find a good surgeon, how long I should wait before having surgery, or what the prognosis for a good outcome exists. I am 58 years old. There is a history of cataracts in my family. I have an uncle who had the surgery many years ago, and completely lost his sight. I have an aunt who recently had the surgery which was very successful. I would appreciate any information you can give, and help me chart a direction in dealing with the problem.

Answer: Cataracts are common and usually progressive. Surgery of any type is usually not attempted until the vision has been affected. This usually happens about the time that patients no longer feel comfortable driving at dusk or at night. The cataracts need to be "ripe" to get the maximum effect while giving the least risk. This usually takes 5-10 years although some cataracts can be very slow growing. As long as you don't notice the cataracts I wouldn't pursue any surgical options.
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