5 Facts to Know Before Scheduling Cataract Surgery as a Younger Patient

While previous generations used to accept blurry vision as a natural part of aging, modern eye care patients stop by for an assessment at the slightest change in reading power. This increasing trust in healthcare is beneficial because it helps optometrists catch the earliest warning signs of cataracts in young patients. If your eye doctor wants to schedule cataract removal surgery and you're well under the retirement age, consider these facts that affect your surgical experience.

Shorter Healing Times

Younger patients used to delay cataract surgery for as many years as possible by waiting until their eyesight was simply too poor for daily tasks like driving and cooking. This tendency was due to the recovery challenges after surgery, which used to involve multiple days in the hospital and a few more weeks with limited use of the eye. Today's surgery techniques are greatly improved, leading to cataract surgery being offered an outpatient procedure instead. With most patients getting out of the office within two hours, there's no need to ask for a week off work or make arrangements for long-term childcare just to fit an important eye surgery into your schedule.

Serious Causes

While cataracts are relatively routine due to the wear and tear on the eye as you age, serious lens clouding that shows up in your 20s or 30s could indicate a more serious secondary condition. Some of the most common causes of cataracts in young patients include

  • Diabetes, with both types increasing the chances of this eye condition
  • Trauma to the eye, such as a heavy blow during a sports game
  • Intense exposure to direct sunlight or isolated UV rays
  • A variety of different eye diseases, both hereditary and non-genetic
  • Hypertension, especially when it's compounded with eye disease or diabetes
  • The side effects from various steroidal medications.

Unless you have a long history of early cataract development in your family, consider a full physical exam after a diagnosis to make sure your health is otherwise sound.

Better Vision Improvement

Choosing to take the surgery at an earlier age allows you to use your remaining vision as much as possible before it declines as well with age. By letting a cataract create blurriness and light sensitivity in one or both eyes for years at a time, you're robbing yourself of the natural power of your eyes. If you already rely on glasses or contacts because you don't have 20/20 vision even before lens clouding, you definitely shouldn't let the cataracts worsen your sight further when you need the best vision possible for driving safely and meeting the demands of your career.

Rising Numbers

Don't feel like an outlier if you're 30 to 50 years younger than the other patients waiting with you for cataract surgery. While most patients are elderly because cataracts are strongly age-related, a recent study found that about 20 percent of people receiving this procedure were under 65. That number is expected to grow because of new tools to detect cataracts in even younger patients, as well as a rising trend towards fixing vision problems as soon as possible instead of waiting until they worsen.

Multiple Options

Complex cataracts in young patients may or may not respond well to the usual surgery, which involves the removal of the thickened natural lens and the insertion of a flexible replacement. If your ophthalmologist is concerned that this lens insertion procedure may not work well due to other issues with the shape or condition of the eye, they can remove the lens and turn to special glasses and contacts instead. Young patients can take full advantage of all the cataract treatment options because they usually have better coordination and memory skills for managing lenses worn on the exterior of the eye.