University of Iowa Health Care

Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences


From One Medical Student to Another

page 4


As mentioned in the examination section, cataracts cause visualization challenges for both the patient and the ophthalmologist. For this reason, cataract surgery may be indicated in 2 general situations: trouble seeing out or trouble seeing in.

Trouble seeing out Trouble seeing in
A patient may be referred for cataract surgery when the cataract decreases visual function such that it interferes with daily living activities or prevents the patient from meeting visual acuity standards for driving, work or other such activities. A systematic review of the cataract literature from Canada showed delaying surgery for more than 6 months increased falls, decreased quality of life and decreased visual acuity (Hodge 2007). Generally, surgery should not be performed if glasses or contact lenses can satisfy a patient's needs. Many ophthalmological disorders including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration require the ophthalmologist to accurately visualize the retina or other structures of the eye posterior to the lens on a regular basis. A cataract may obscure the ophthalmologist's view and may hinder appropriate monitoring of these degenerative problems. It is appropriate to have a cataract removed so these conditions can be properly monitored.

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last updated: 07-05-2010

Boeke P, Oetting T.
Cataracts: from one medical student to another. July 5, 2010; Available from: tutorials/cataract-for-med-students/

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