Did you know that cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed and most successful surgeries in the world? It is estimated that this year alone, more than 20 million cataract procedures will be performed worldwide. And the demand for cataract surgery is expected to continue to grow due to an expanding aging population (“baby boomers”). The baby boomers lead a more active lifestyle, have a longer life expectancy and have higher expectations than previous generations.
The World Health Organization estimates that, by the year 2020, the global population over age 65 will total 698 million. That’s a lot of potential cataracts.
Safe and Effective
Fortunately, as nerve-racking as cataract surgery may sound, it usually completely restores vision loss to due to cataracts, and can even reduce dependence on eyeglasses. Modern cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective surgical procedures performed today. An uncomplicated cataract surgery typically lasts only about 15 minutes, and most are performed on an outpatient basis.
While references to cataract surgery can be traced all the way back to about 2457 B.C., Sir Nicholas Harold Lloyd Ridley, an English ophthalmologist, pioneered artificial intraocular lens (IOL) transplant surgery in 1949. Today, replacing clouded cataract lenses with IOLs is still the most common type of cataract surgery.
Of course, technology has advanced considerably over the last 60+ years, improving the safety, efficacy and recovery time of cataract surgery. Technological advances have transformed the goal of cataract surgery from purely visual rehabilitation to helping patients minimize their need for glasses at most distances. (For more information on the different types of IOLs, click here.)
While the risks of many types of surgeries increase for older patients, cataract surgery is not one of them. Thanks to the anatomical isolation of the eye, health problems elsewhere in the body have little effect on cataract surgery. This, coupled with evolving technology, contributes to cataract surgery’s strong record of safety and effectiveness. And continual evolution of technology promises to even further improve already very successful patient outcomes after cataract surgery.