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Should Cataract Surgery be Performed on One Eye or Both Eyes?

By Gordon Wong, OD on October 19, 2016


An elderly man at an eye examThe people of San Diego have so many great sights to see. To help our friends and neighbors see clearly and enjoy life to its fullest, we are pleased to offer diverse eye care solutions. We also offer insight into more advanced vision correction solutions and how they can benefit patients with various needs.

When it comes to cataract surgery, it's possible to remove cataracts in both eyes in one brief surgical session. It may not be the best idea, however. Let's take a moment to consider whether or not cataract surgery should be performed on both eyes at once or just one eye at a time.

About Cataracts

Cataracts are the clouding of the naturally clear lens of the eye. This tends to occur as a result of an eye injury, the advanced aging process, long-term UV ray damage, sudden radiation exposure, or the use of certain drugs. As a cataract gets worse, it can lead to hazy vision, blurry vision, and general vision loss.

Keep in mind that cataracts are common in older patients given the long-term wear and tear on the eyes. Thankfully a routine surgery can remove cataracts and improve vision.

When Should Cataracts be Surgically Removed?

A cataract does not need to be removed just because the lens of an eye becomes cloudy. In some cases, patients will be able to wear prescription glasses to address the vision loss caused by cataracts. Cataract removal is only ideal when the clouding of the lens of the eye leads to significant vision impairment that cannot be addressed through the use of glasses.

How Cataract Surgery is Performed

During cataract surgery, a small incision is made in the cornea, the transparent outer later of the eye. This allows the surgeon to access the clouded lens. This lens is carefully broken up so that it is easier to remove. Once the old lens is gone, an artificial lens known as an intraocular lens (IOL) is placed in the lens capsule to restore vision.

The Argument for Performing Surgery on Both Eyes at Once

Some eye surgeons believe in performing cataract surgery on both eyes at the same time if a patient has cataracts in both eyes. By performing the two surgeries all at once, this saves time for the patient. He or she will not need to undergo two separate surgeries with two separate recovery phases. That means less time off of work and, in some respects, less need to worry.

Why Many Eye Surgeons Prefer to Operate One Eye at a Time

Even though there is some convenience to performing cataracts surgeries all at once, many eye surgeons still prefer to operate one eye at a time. By treating one eye at a time, surgeons are able to avoid potential complications that affect both eyes after surgery. While cataract removal is routine and very safe, a number of eye care specialists simply want to avoid the risk of patients losing vision or experiencing impaired vision.

Erring on the Side of Caution May be Best

It really is a matter of measuring risk and reward when it comes to anything in life, but with vision, it's often best to err on the side of caution. While there may be multiple visits to the eye surgeon, performing cataract surgery one eye at a time can avoid serious problems with vision and overall quality of life.

Assessing Your Overall Situation

During a consultation with an eye surgeon, you will be able to learn more about the ideal surgical options and treatments for you. By tailoring the procedure to your needs, ideal results can be achieved.

Learn More About Cataract Surgery

For more information about cataract surgery and how it can help you experience restored vision and a better overall quality of life, be sure to speak with our experienced eye care specialists today. We can discuss these matters with you in greater detail and help offers insight into the treatment process as needed.

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