Friday, April 1, 2011

Cataracts and Lens Replacement Surgery

QUESTION:
I am 20 years old and was born with a cataract. It was removed shortly after birth when my parents noticed it and since then I have not had a lens in my right eye. I am not completely blind...can still see colors and images but everything is blurry. Since I have not had a lens in that eye for almost 20 years, is it too late for me to get a lens replacement?

ANSWER:
The fact that the Cataract was removed shortly after birth is good as the longer Cataract Surgery is delayed in cases of congenital Cataracts the less likely a favorable visual outcome. But, if you have had no optical correction in the operated eye it is probable that the vision as interpreted by the brain from that eye failed to develop. This condition, called amblyopia or more commonly “lazy eye” may be somewhat permanently embedded and thus you may not be correctable with an intraocular lens implant (IOL) to a very high level of vision. That said, by placing an implant in that eye it is highly probably that you see considerable improvement in your vision and overall functioning in that eye. Perhaps you will not improve as measured by reading many additional lines on the eye chart but better nonetheless. It is impossible to say without a careful examination and testing how much your vision will improve. There is also an opinion that sometimes the achieved vision improves more than expected as a result of “neuroplasticity” of the brain even at 20 years old. This is very much worth pursuing by having a consultation with either a refractive surgeon who also performs lens surgery or a top Cataract Surgeon who can examine you and help set realistic expectations from the results of the testing.

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