Age-related cataracts eventually affect almost everyone. In fact, more than half of people over age 65 are diagnosed with a cataract, and the incidence increases with each decade of life. Because diabetes is becoming more common, many diabetic patients seeking cataract surgery wonder if it’s possible to successfully restore vision loss due to cataracts.
Although there may be an increased risk of complications and some limitations, it is possible for diabetic patients to achieve good results from cataract surgery. Here we explore the evaluation process, factors to consider, and recovery from surgery.
Evaluating diabetic patients for cataract surgery
Every cataract surgery patient undergoes a preoperative evaluation, but the diabetic patient can expect to undergo a more extensive assessment. Specifically, there will be more emphasis on tests that assess the extent of eye changes caused by diabetes.
If a patient with a cataract reports visual problems that are affecting quality of life (for example the ability to perform everyday activities like driving), a doctor will perform more tests to be sure that vision loss is due to the cataract and not to other causes. For example, some diabetic patients experience a condition known as diabetic retinopathy, which occurs when high blood sugar levels cause damage to blood vessels in the retina. Because of this, a retina specialist may be included in the pre-cataract surgery evaluation process.
A detailed eye exam may reveal other pathologies, and if so, a treatment plan may be considered prior to cataract surgery.
Factors to consider for diabetic patients contemplating cataract surgery
When evaluating cataract patients who also have diabetes, doctors have many factors to consider, the first of which is how well controlled is the diabetes? A doctor may recommend delaying surgery if blood glucose levels are too high.
Cataracts tend to develop at an earlier age in those with diabetes and in some cases it may also be preferable to perform cataract surgery at an earlier stage in cataract development to lessen the risks of complications. Cataract surgery can lead to the progression of diabetic retinopathy, but in eyes with minimal diabetic changes, cataract surgery is less likely to cause this progression. So, surgery at an earlier stage may be recommended.
Cataract surgery involves removing the natural lens of the eye and replacing it with an artificial lens known as an intraocular lens, or IOL. In some cases, certain types of IOLs need to be avoided in patients who have diabetes. A qualified eye doctor will be able to discuss IOL options for diabetic patients.
Cataract surgery recovery for diabetic patients
Diabetic patients who undergo cataract surgery may require closer supervision and more evaluation post-surgery. Topical steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to prevent and treat fluid build-up (macular edema) and swelling or inflammation.
Those with diabetes are more at risk for developing a condition known as posterior capsule opacification, sometimes called a “secondary cataract.” Although not a cataract, this condition can make it seem as though the cataract has returned, but it can usually be treated with a routine outpatient laser procedure.
Although having diabetes may pose unique challenges, and patients may experience a longer recovery, careful pre- and post-treatment can lead to good results from cataract surgery.
The IC-8 lens advantage
If you have diabetes and have been diagnosed with a cataract, be sure to talk to your doctor about which IOL may be right for you. Learn more about the IC-8 lens. For those who are candidates, the IC-8 lens offers many advantages over traditional (monofocal) and multifocal IOLs. It is designed to provide a natural range of vision from near to far, including mid-range vision needed to read a computer screen. With the IC-8 lens, one may achieve continuous and seamless vision at all distances.