Does Cataract Surgery Affect Peripheral Vision?
Cataract Surgery is among the safest routine procedures with an extremely high rate of success and patient satisfaction. It has become the most commonly performed procedure in the UK and is considered safe and effective. Nonetheless, when awaiting Cataract Surgery, it is essential to be as informed as possible about the risks and benefits of the procedure.
So, with that in mind, in this article, we’re taking a closer look at how Cataract Surgery could affect peripheral vision.
What is Cataract Surgery?
Cataract Surgery is a common routine procedure designed to remove cataracts from the eye to restore vision. Cataracts are a natural part of the eye’s ageing process and become increasingly common as we get older. It is estimated that around 59% of adults aged 80-84 are affected.
Cataracts form as the proteins in the lens begin to break down and clump together over time. As they mature, cataracts form a cloudy obstruction in the lens causing significant impairment to vision. If left untreated, cataracts can lead to significant vision loss and even blindness. Thankfully, Cataract Surgery is an effective solution that can often completely reverse the effects of cataracts.
The procedure involves removing the cataract-affected lens and replacing it with an artificial one, known as an intraocular lens or “IOL”.
Cataract Surgery and Peripheral Vision
Following Cataract Surgery, most patients find that their general vision improves significantly as the once-obstructed lens is replaced with a clear artificial one. However, in some cases, other impairments may become apparent post-surgery. For example, blurriness caused by the cataract may have masked other issues, such as a macular pucker, which only becomes observable once the cataract is removed.
But can Cataract Surgery affect peripheral vision?
It has been suggested that the eye’s natural crystalline lens provides some compensatory optical effect in the periphery. Therefore, it may be expected that replacement of this lens with an IOL would affect the peripheral image quality of patients undergoing Cataract Surgery – and there is some evidence to suggest that this is possible.
A 2012 study assessed the peripheral vision of patients who had one eye implanted with a monofocal IOL during Cataract Surgery and one eye that was unoperated and showed only minor signs of early cataract. The researchers used a scanning peripheral wavefront sensor to compare the vision of the phakic and pseudophakic eyes. They concluded that eyes implanted with monofocal IOLs presented larger values of oblique astigmatism in the periphery.
Dysphotopsias are undesirable optical phenomena that appear when an external light source superimposes unwanted patterns over the true retinal images. Negative dysphotopsias usually present as an arc-shaped shadow or line in the temporal part of the visual field.
These visual disturbances are thought to affect around 26% of Cataract Surgery patients immediately after surgery; however, symptoms usually persist in 0.13 to 3% of patients. In a small number of cases, surgical intervention may be required to resolve the problem. Recent research indicates that using a 7.0mm-diameter optic IOL (compared with a 6.0mm-diameter optic) may help to shift negative dysphotopsia disturbances further onto the peripheral field, potentially making the issue less bothersome and allowing for easier neuroadaptation.
There is evidence to suggest that the replacement of the natural lens with an IOL may impact the patient’s peripheral vision. The studies mentioned in this article referred to both visual disturbances and a reduced field of vision. Nonetheless, patient satisfaction remains extremely high post-cataract surgery due to the high rates of success and visual improvements associated with the procedure.
If you’d like to learn more about what to expect following Cataract Surgery, get in touch with one of our friendly clinic coordinators. Alternatively, Book a Consultation today to start your journey to clear, cataract-free vision.