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Cataract Surgery Complications in the Elderly

Cataract is one of those old-age buzzwords. You hear it and think, “aw, they are old!” or worse, “ugh, I’m getting old.” Luckily, cataract surgery for seniors is common, exceptionally safe, and has a 99% success rate.

Cataract Surgery for Elderly Adults - Common Questions

There are several common questions associated with cataract surgery and hopefully, we can answer many of them for you here!

  • When Should You Have Cataracts Removed?

    • Cataracts can cause blurry vision and increase the glare from lights, particularly headlights when driving at night. Your doctor will likely recommend cataract surgery when they begin to interfere with your daily life.

    • Your doctor may also recommend cataract surgery if your cataracts begin to interfere with the treatment of other eye problems. For example, if your doctor is having difficulty seeing the back of your eye to check for things like macular degeneration, he may suggest having your cataracts removed.

    • When determining if you need to have your cataracts removed, consider questions like, “Am I experiencing blurry vision?” “Am I having difficulty reading?” “Can I drive safely?” “Do bright lights make it difficult to see?” If your answer to any of these questions is yes, you should speak with your eye doctor.

  • How Successful is Cataract Surgery?

    • Cataract surgery has a 99% success rate, and generally, patients do exceedingly well after surgery.

    • Cataract surgery is a short outpatient procedure. It occasionally requires a sedative, but not anesthesia. Generally, eye drops to numb the eye are all that is required, and the entire procedure takes about an hour. After surgery, many patients feel they see even better than they did before they had cataracts.

  • Are There Cataract Surgery Complications for the Elderly?

    • Complications during or after cataract surgery are very rare and when they do occur are generally easy to treat.

    • Inflammation - a little redness or swelling after surgery is normal and can be treated with eye drops

    • Infection - if you feel sensitive to light, notice an extreme amount of redness, or have pain or vision problems, call your doctor right away as you may have an infection

    • Retinal detachment - if you feel like a curtain has fallen over part of your eye, you see flashes of light or have floating spots in your vision, call your doctor right away.

    • Some even more rare and unlikely complications are listed here at WebMD.

  • Is there an age limit for cataract surgery?

    • There’s a reason many people think of cataract surgery as eye surgery for old people. There is no age limit for cataract surgery, and it has successfully improved the vision of seniors as old as 95.

  • Can you experience confusion after cataract surgery?

    • Though uncommon, an elderly person could experience postoperative delirium after cataract surgery. The confusion may not start until a few days after surgery and generally goes away in about a week. These tips from the American Society of Anesthesiologists can help.

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Overall cataract surgery is a very low-risk procedure that very rarely causes complications and leads to better vision. If your doctor recommends it, you have nothing to fear and better quality of life to gain!