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I recently heard that the newest thinking about cataracts was that it was best to have them removed early in their development, rather than waiting for them to more fully develop. Is that true? My doctor has told me to wait for them to get worse before operating. I am a little confused and wonder if I should have someone else look.
I think you are getting good advice from your present doctor. Although a cataract can be removed early, if you are not having any difficulty with your vision, there is no reason to remove it. Most patients have slight cataracts as they get into their late 60s and 70s, and the cataracts usually develop slowly. In fact, insurance regulations require problems with some aspect of your vision, like reading or driving a car for example, to justify payment for cataract surgery. Early cataracts that are removed to eliminate the need for glasses are considered "refractive lensectomy" and the expense of the surgery should be paid for by the patient rather than by the insurance company. Since there is always a slight risk with cataract surgery, you must balance the minimal risk with the potential benefit before proceeding with surgery.
Answered by: James Salz, MD
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Answered: Nov 23, 2010
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