Is Cataract Surgery More Difficult the Longer You Wait?
Nobody wants to be told they have cataracts; and yet, the chances are most of us will be told exactly that in our lifetime. The fact is, the development of cataracts is a normal part of ageing. While it can take years before they start to significantly affect your vision, being aware of when to take action can be crucial for the effective treatment of cataracts.
So, can you wait too long? Is Cataract Surgery more difficult the longer you wait?
Whether you are nervous about the procedure or are concerned about the recovery period, it can be tempting to put off Cataract Surgery for as long as possible. On the other hand, you may have been diagnosed with fast-growing cataracts and want to know how long you have to act.
Whatever the reason, let’s discuss the potential risks of postponing your Cataract Surgery.
What are Cataracts?
In the majority of cases – though not all – the development of cataracts is directly related to ageing. You see, as our eyes age, the proteins in the lenses begin to break down. Eventually, these broken-down proteins begin to clump together, forming a cataract.
This process can take years, and you may not begin to notice any impairment to your vision until the cataract is relatively mature. However, as time goes on, cataracts continue to become denser and more obstructive to your vision, eventually making removal necessary. If left untreated, cataracts can cause irreversible blindness.
The only effective way to treat cataracts is through surgery. This involves removing the eye’s natural lens (which is now clouded by the cataract) and replacing it with an artificial one. While this may sound a little scary, Cataract Surgery is an extremely common procedure with excellent safety and success rates.
Furthermore, Cataract Surgery is usually completed in under an hour; there is no hospital stay and patients can head home the very same day.
Still, the prospect of undergoing any kind of surgery can be daunting. While it may be tempting to postpone your Cataract Surgery for as long as possible, this may lead to complications later on.
Postponing Cataract Surgery
As mentioned above, as a cataract continues to develop, it grows more dense and begins to further impair vision. If a cataract is left untreated for too long, it can become what is known as “hyper-mature“.
When a cataract becomes hyper-mature, it is often more difficult to remove and is associated with a higher risk of complications during Cataract Surgery. Exactly when a cataract reaches this point can vary significantly between patients. It is, therefore, crucial to have your eye doctor monitor the development of your cataracts.
Potential Complications of Delayed Cataract Surgery
The denser a cataract is allowed to become as it reaches hyper-maturity, the more difficult it is for the surgeon to remove it from the lens capsule in the eye. They can often also mean that extra post-operative steps are required to ensure a smooth recovery.
But it’s not just problems in surgery and recovery that are affected by delaying Cataract Surgery. A 2007 study found that patients who waited more than six months to have treatment were more likely to experience falls and report decreased quality of life during the waiting period compared with patients who received treatment within six weeks.
Thankfully, the majority of patients become fed up with cataracts and their impact on their vision long before they reach hyper-maturity. However, increased waiting times for NHS treatment mean that more people are now waiting longer to receive Cataract Surgery.
NHS Waiting Times for Cataract Surgery
It’s no secret that NHS waiting times have skyrocketed over the last few years. Sadly, this means that some patients are now waiting up to 18 months to have their cataracts removed – some patients in Northern Ireland have even waited for four years!
The latest figures depicting waiting time for NHS Cataract Surgery show that the average patient can expect to wait nine months for treatment. Of course, the true waiting time can vary significantly depending on your location.
For this reason, many patients are opting to have Cataract Surgery at private clinics. When having Cataract Surgery at London Vision Clinic, patients can receive treatment in just a matter of weeks – and there are lots more benefits, too.
If you’re in need of Cataract Surgery – don’t delay! Get in touch with one of our friendly clinic coordinators to learn more about Cataract Surgery at London Vision Clinic. Alternatively, Book a Consultation today.