Can Cataract Surgery Affect My Age-related Macular Degeneration?

This has been a somewhat controversial question, as many patients have both cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. As patients’ cataracts have pro-gressed, some have held off vision-improving surgery due to the fear of it impacting their macular degeneration. Studies have been conflicting in responding to this question; however, the most recent data from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) have dispelled the belief that cataract surgery increases the likelihood of developing wet macular degeneration.

Therefore, the current recommendation is that patients should consider cataract surgery if their daily activities are affected by the symptoms of the cataract. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether visual symptoms are related to the cataract or the age-related macular degeneration. Blurred and cloudy vision and glare are more likely related to cataracts, and distorted or absent vision is more likely related to the macular degeneration. However, these symptoms are not absolute, and your retina specialist will be helpful in making this determination.

Nick’s comment: At the point of the “trial” period when Lucentis was clearly helping my left eye, my right eye developed wet macular degeneration. Unfortunately, since it was still an investi-gational drug, I could not get Lucentis for my right eye. Soon after this, a cataract was removed from my right eye. I was told to remove the bandage the afternoon following surgery, and I could not believe what I could see peripher-ally even though my central vision had deteriorated due to macular degeneration. This cataract operation helped my sight dramatically. I am very grateful.