How Long to Wait Between Cataract Surgery On Each Eye?

It goes without saying that having clear vision is an integral part of everyday life, as most of society is built around the assumption that our eyes are functioning properly. The development of cataracts, however, spells a completely different story. This common condition denotes the “clouding” of the lens of one, or both of your eyes and causes your vision to become blurred and distorted. Removing and replacing the lens with an artificial one remains to be the only permanent, safe, and most effective treatment option available.

Treating a single eye is simple enough, but if you have cataracts in both eyes, you might be wondering how exactly treatment works. Will you have to live blind for a time, can you have one eye fixed at a time, and if so, how long between cataract surgery on each eye? Today we’ll be explaining how cataract surgery works when both eyes are affected, the factors that influence waiting and recovery periods, and we’ll address some common questions among patients. By the time we’re finished, you’ll be fully versed in what to expect when receiving cataract surgery on both eyes.

Handling Cataracts In Both Eyes

Having both cataracts removed in the same procedure, known as a bilateral cataract surgery, is possible, but is a rare occurrence. Tending to one cataract at a time ensures minimal impact on your day-to-day life, as you will always have some level of vision, and has the added benefit of allowing your doctor to observe your recovery before starting work on your other eye. So, just how long between cataract surgery on each eye? While the wait time between surgeries varies, 1-2 weeks is what is most commonly recommended.

The main difference between handling cataracts in both eyes versus one eye is deciding which one to attend to first, usually whichever has been affected more. Once determined, the treatment follows a standardized procedure, as set out by the National Eye Institute (NEI).

Factors That Influence the Time Between Surgeries

As with most medical procedures, doctors run on a case-by-case basis and have to make decisions based on your unique condition. When deciding on how long to wait between cataract surgery on each eye, a few things they factor in include:

1. How advanced your cataracts are. Cataracts in a highly advanced stage can cause pressure to build up in the eye and result in long-term damage. Luckily, this only applies to cataracts that have been left or ignored for an exceedingly long period of time. On the other hand, if the cataract in one eye is in a relatively early stage, your doctor may recommend an extended wait time if they believe that surgery is not yet necessary.

2. Your recovery progress. Some of us recover more quickly than others and vice versa. Depending on how your recovery is progressing, your doctor may recommend waiting longer to avoid any potential complications.
3. Underlying conditions. It’s possible that your cataracts are obstructing additional problems at the back of the eye. If your doctor needs to keep watch for conditions such as retinopathy or macular degeneration, they may decide to alter your waiting period.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it rare to address both eyes in the same procedure?

Aside from always allowing for some level of vision at all times, as mentioned earlier, in very rare cases, infection during surgery, called endophthalmitis, can occur and bring a serious risk of complications with it. During bilateral cataract surgery, it is still rare for this to occur, however the risk changes to the possibility of both eyes being affected simultaneously. This is a worst-case scenario but is easily eliminated by simply attending to each eye individually.

How long is the wait between cataract surgery on each eye?

The most common waiting period is 1-2 weeks, although some patients can go months, or even years before needing a second surgery. This is so that your doctor can monitor your recovery progress and take steps to avoid the possibility of future complications.

Want to know more? Contact Brimhall Eye on our website, or give us a call at (702)263-2020 today!

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