Many people have both cataracts and macular degeneration as both conditions are more common later in life. Cataracts are caused by a clouding of the lens in the front of the eye and are treated with surgery. Macular degeneration is an aging change in the back of the eye. There are two types of macular degeneration: “dry” and “wet.” The dry type is less severe and may just be noticed during a routine eye examination. The more severe wet type usually causes blurred or distorted central vision. Sometimes the wet type is treated with injections into the eye on a regular basis.
If your vision is impaired by macular degeneration and you also have cataracts, you may wonder if having cataract surgery would be of any benefit. A recent study in the medical journal “Ophthalmology” looked at this very question. The study followed 800 patients and came to the conclusion that cataract surgery did improve vision in patients with all levels of macular degeneration. Expectations should be guarded, however, about how much improvement could be expected. The retinal is like the film of a camera, so if it is damaged by macular degeneration you cannot expect to get a perfect picture even with a perfectly clear lens.
Every situation is different so the decision to proceed with cataract surgery is one that you make with the assistance of your eye physician. While cataract surgery is a relatively quick and easy procedure, you want have reasonable expectations. We can thoroughly discuss your options and explain what visual improvement you could expect with cataract surgery the time of your next complete eye examination.
Dr. Martha Jay is a board certified ophthalmologist specializing in medical and surgical eye care including cataract surgery and macular degeneration care. For more eye care information, call 262-241-1919 or visit www.LakeShoreVision.com.