As people get older, they may develop eye conditions that will need treatment. A large number of older patients will need cataract surgery, where a surgeon will remove the natural lens and replace it with an artificial one. Yet some of these patients may have a form of macular degeneration (which is also age-related) before any cataract surgery. Does this present any additional challenges, or could it make the macular degeneration worse?
Different Forms of Macular Degeneration
There are two different types of macular degeneration, both of which are typically related to advancing age. The first is more common and known as "dry," while the second may require more intervention and is generally known as "wet." In both cases, the disease will affect the central part of the eye around the retina and may make it difficult to focus on any object that is nearby. Dry macular degeneration tends to be less problematic, although there is no real cure for this at the moment. If the patient has wet macular degeneration, then the surgeon may recommend that they inject a special solution into the vitreous cavity of the eye from time to time. This procedure can help to prevent abnormal growth of blood vessels beneath the macula and keep the disease in check.
Cataract surgery, on the other hand, involves the lens of the eye that sits in front of the retina and is not directly related. There is no evidence to show that a procedure to replace the lens has any bearing on the patient when it comes to any existing form of macular degeneration. Furthermore, there is no evidence to suggest that the operation may trigger macular degeneration in a patient who previously did not have it.
When a surgeon replaces a cataract, the majority of patients report significant improvement, and this, by itself, could be advantageous for those who are already dealing with age-related macular degeneration.
Chatting with the Surgeon
If you have any concerns about your cataract surgery, talk with the surgeon before you proceed. They will carry out a comprehensive eye exam and determine the extent of any other problems before they continue. In the majority of cases, the patient will benefit from cataract surgery should the condition have deteriorated to a point where it is affecting their quality-of-life. In every situation, however, the surgeon will recommend a course of action based on your individual diagnosis.