Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cataracts, Cataract Surgery & Dry AMD

Question: I have Cataracts in both eyes and Dry Macular Degeneration (AMD) in both eyes. What are the possible complications from Cataract Surgery given my AMD? Are there many surgeries of this type performed? What generally is the success rate? Thanks.

Answer: Both Cataracts and AMD are typically associated with the aging process. Both tend to increase in incidence with increasing age and so it is not unusual to see patients who have both Cataracts and AMD. What is different is the degree and severity of the AMD and the degree of Cataract formation. Dry AMD is a slowly progressive type of Macular Degeneration that typically causes a dimming of vision, fading of colors and often loss of contrast sensitivity-which are the same types of symptoms caused by the development of a Cataract. The combination of the two conditions occurring concurrently can often result in marked reduction in both visual acuity and visual function. Dry AMD accounts for perhaps 85% of the cases of Age Related Macular Degeneration. Some percentage of cases do progress to Wet AMD which has a much more catastrophic effect on vision.

You do not specify the degree of Dry AMD that you have and how extensive it is. You also do not specify how dense your Cataracts are and what your current level of visual acuity is. For some time there was a concern that removing a Cataract would increase the possibility of the development of or progression of AMD. Here is what we know today. Some of the reduction in your vision is no doubt due to the AMD and some is due to the Cataracts. You need to have a thorough examination, preoperative testing and consultation in order to get an approximation of what you might expect after Cataract Surgery. Realistic expectations are the key here and setting those requires careful evaluation of the Cataract as well as careful evaluation of the Macula by a top Cataract Surgeon. While it is often difficult to quantify what the exact results will be, we do know that people who have mild or moderate degrees of AMD along with moderate or even more advanced Cataracts do experience meaningful benefits in terms of lifestyle and functioning. We also know that the most current research indicates that people who have Cataract Surgery are not at any higher risk for the development or progression of AMD. This is especially true in consideration of the more advanced types of UV blocking lens implants (IOL)s that are often suggested by the best Cataract Surgeons. With regard to the Cataract Surgery procedure itself, there is really no difference in the Cataract operation when done for routine patients versus those with Macular Degeneration. Further there is really no difference in the risks, complications of side effects of Cataract Surgery for patients with or without AMD. Your next step is to find the top cataract Surgeons in your area and schedule a consultation. If you wish additional confirmation of the benefit in your particular case you may also ask for a consultation with a Retinal Specialist who specializes in diseases of the Macula as a source of second opinion.

Important Note: The information presented on the About Cataract Surgery Blog or provided in response to a request for information in the Ask Cataract Surgeons section on is not intended to diagnose or treat eye problems, eye conditions or eye diseases including appropriateness of treatment, risks, complications or side effects as related to Cataracts, Cataract Surgery of Lens Implants. In particular a response to an inquiry made on the Ask Cataract Surgeons section of is not meant to take the place of the professional medical care provided by your eye doctor, ophthalmologist and Cataract Surgeon surgeon. Contacting us via e-mail or any other means is not a substitute for medical care.

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