Does Cataract Surgery Get Rid of Floaters?
If you have been told you require Cataract Surgery, it is likely you will have a number of questions relating to the procedure. These questions may concern the procedure itself, the recovery process – or the various other problems that could be fixed during Cataract Surgery.
You may have heard that your long-sightedness, short-sightedness, and even astigmatism and presbyopia can be addressed at the same time as your cataracts. But what about floaters? Does Cataract Surgery get rid of floaters?
As we get older, it is inevitable that we will begin to experience changes in our bodies. But changes to our vision can often come as a surprise. Whether it is the gradual dependence on reading glasses, the development of cataracts or the appearance of ‘floaters’, the eyes’ natural ageing process can hold in store a number of undesirable side effects.
Cataracts and Cataract Surgery
Cataracts are cloudy obstacles that affect the lens in our eyes. They develop over time and it can sometimes take years to notice the clouding of the lenses. While vision impairment may not occur for some years, eventually, if left untreated, cataracts can lead to blindness.
The development of cataracts becomes a more likely affliction as we age. In fact, it is estimated that around 42% of people aged 75-79 in the UK are affected by vision-impairing cataracts. As such, Cataract Surgery is the most common elective surgical procedure in the UK.
Cataract Surgery works by removing the eye’s natural cataract-affected lens and replacing it with an artificial one. It is, therefore, possible at this stage in the procedure to also address existing refractive errors such as long-sightedness (hyperopia), short-sightedness (myopia), and astigmatism. Even presbyopia may be corrected with the implantation of specifically designed artificial lenses.
Correcting other problems during Cataract Surgery
A variety of artificial lenses can be used in Cataract Surgery – these are known as intraocular lenses (IOLs) These can be used to correct common refractive errors; however, the options available will depend on whether you have treatment at a private clinic or through the NHS.
For example, the NHS uses exclusively monofocal lenses to replace the natural lens in Cataract Surgery. When having treatment at a private clinic, multifocal lenses, extended depth of focus (EDOF) lenses, and toric lenses may be offered.
At London Vision Clinic, we are able to offer the entire range of commercially available IOLs to ensure the best possible visual outcomes after Cataract Surgery. The type of lens used will depend on your specific refractive error.
Cataract Surgery and Glaucoma
Cataract Surgery may also help to reduce intraocular pressure in patients with glaucoma who also have cataracts. In some cases, Cataract Surgery alone can help to lower the pressure in the eye. However, for patients with more serious glaucoma, a combination of Cataract Surgery and glaucoma filtering procedure may be considered.
Cataract Surgery and Floaters
The term “floaters” refers to spots in your vision that can cause irritation and impaired vision. These spots may move around your field of vision. They are a natural and common side effect of ageing and are usually harmless.
Floaters develop in the fluid of the eye (the vitreous) as tiny strands of gel stick together and cast shadows on your retina. The appearance of floaters is common in people who have had Cataract Surgery, though this is likely not the cause.
Instead, it is thought that the removal of cataracts simply makes floaters more noticeable. This is likely because a cataract-affected lens tends to swell in comparison to a healthy lens. When this swollen lens is replaced with an IOL, the vitreous fluid in the eye has more room to move around, making floaters more noticeable.
Therefore, Cataract Surgery does not get rid of floaters but instead may make them more apparent.
The presence of floaters after Cataract Surgery
If floaters do appear after your Cataract Surgery, it is important to inform your doctor. While most floaters are completely harmless, they can sometimes be a sign of a retinal tear. This will require monitoring to avoid retinal detachment.
Getting Rid of Floaters
The good news is, there are options available if floaters begin to affect your vision or your quality of life.
For example, vitrectomy – the procedure used to remove the gel of the eye – can be effective at getting rid of visually significant floaters. However, this procedure is more invasive than Cataract Surgery and is not recommended unless the floaters are significantly impairing vision or affecting your quality of life.
In some cases, Laser Surgery may be considered to get rid of floaters. YAG vitreolysis is a laser treatment that involves firing short pulses of energy into the eye to break up the floaters. This procedure can reduce sight disturbances associated with their formation.
While it is difficult to target and remove all floaters from the eye, YAG vitreolysis is generally very effective. However, the procedure can carry significant risks, including the development of cataract, retinal damage, spikes in intraocular pressure, and potential loss of vision, though this is rare.