• Can cataract surgery be done before the cataract is ripe?


    Question:

    I had radial keratotomy surgery (or RK, a surgery that at one time was used to correct nearsightedness) in 1988. My eyes have been forming cataracts for the past five years, but my last exam said it might be another five to ten years before they are "ripe." My vision cannot be corrected beyond 20/40 and 20/50 due to the RK. I see different shades of colors, and the worst cataract eye gives things a yellow appearance. Can cataract surgery be done before the cataract is ripe? I’m hoping the cataract replacement lens would also improve my vision. Would it?


    Answer:

    No modern-day eye surgeon I know uses the term ripe anymore—we of course are not talking about fruit. Today, if the vision is compromised by the cataract, it may be time to remove it, particularly since you are noting color changes. There is no way to know how much improvement you will have after surgery without a proper exam. There are surgeons who are more comfortable operating on post RK eyes and I would try to seek one out.


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