Why an ophthalmologist says you shouldn’t delay cataract surgery

Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures in Canada and one that has largely been delayed because of the pandemic.

But Dr. Dan Belliveau, an ophthalmologist who specializes in cataract surgery, says having the procedure done promptly, once it becomes a problem, is important to make sure it doesn’t get worse.

“Once you have a cataract, you have several options,” said Belliveau. “You can have a traditional lens that gives you, just replaces the blur in your vision. But you have new devices, such as multifocal or trifocal lenses, that can really expand the range of vision.”

Belliveau says the lens with a cataract is removed and a new one is implanted. The optic portion of it is about one-third the size of a dime.

He says it's a day surgery that only takes a few minutes, and there’s no pain.

“People are wide awake for this, but we numb the eye. Typically there are no needles or sutures used in cataract surgery,” says Belliveau.

In terms of recovery, Belliveau says most patients use eye drops for three to four weeks.

“Within days, you can go back to driving your car, or regular work,” he said. “It’s a one-and-done surgery. Once it is done, it does not need to be repeated.

He says if you are predisposed to cataracts, there is nothing you can do to prevent them, but there are things you can do to prolong their growth.

“If you protect yourself with sunglasses and a hat, to try and reduce the amount of UV light that gets in your eyes, you may be able to.”