Cataract Surgery Might Not Make Wet Macular Degeneration Worse

cataract surgeryA study slated to appear in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Ophthalmology found that cataract surgery does not appear to worsen pre-existing wet AMD (age-related macular degeneration). However, cataracts surgery appears to slightly change the anatomy of the eye, which might make AMD patients more susceptible to cystoid macular edema (a side effect of cataracts surgery) and choroidal neovascularization.

Cataract surgery is a common surgery, with a very high success rate and low side effects. Replacing the clouded lens with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) allows more light to reach the retina, which significantly improves vision in cataracts patients. Cataracts frequently appear in the eyes of individuals as they age. Lifelong exposure to UV radiation from the sun and inadequate nutrition accumulate to cause the lens to become obscured by cataracts. Symptoms include blurred or dulled vision, sensitivity to light and glare, and even “ghost” images.

At the same time, the type of intraocular lenses can be selected to improve certain vision problems such as astigmatism and presbyopia (difficulty focusing close-up). Each patient is evaluated individually on their vision needs and desires when selecting a lens or lenses.

The study looked at various cataract surgery groups versus controls over one year. The wet AMD patients who got cataracts surgery seemed to fare well. However, examining their eye anatomy using OCT (optical coherence tomography) indicated changes that might make them more susceptible to subclinical postoperative cystoid macular edema or exacerbation of choroidal neovascularization in the future.

Study: The Effects of Cataract Surgery on Patients with Wet Macular Degeneration (in press) American Journal of Ophthalmology. Steven S. Saraf et. al. Published Online: June 18, 2015