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Can I Have Cataract Surgery if I Have Floaters?

March 8, 2024

Nothing has the potential to affect your clear vision more than the natural aging process. Aging puts you at risk of developing one of the most common eye conditions: cataracts.

It is estimated that cataracts affect more than half of Americans over the age of seventy five and are one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide. While cataracts cannot be reversed, vision can be restored through cataract surgery.

If you are experiencing both cataracts and floaters, another common, age-related eye condition, you might wonder whether you can have cataract surgery if you have floaters. To answer that question, it is helpful to learn more about floaters, cataracts, and cataract surgery. 

Keep reading to learn if you can have cataract surgery if you have floaters!

What Are Floaters?

Floaters are tiny, semi-transparent specks or spots that seem to "float" across your field of vision. While it may seem like something flying in the air in front of your eyes, floaters are actually floating within the eye itself.

Floaters result from changes within the vitreous, the gel-like substance that fills the eye and keeps its shape. Over time, the vitreous shrinks and pulls away from the retina, causing protein cell clumps to break off.

The clumps of protein cells then float around within the vitreous, blocking light from reaching the retina and creating shadows in your vision. Floaters are often most noticeable when looking at a solid color, like a blank wall or a clear sky.

Floaters are usually harmless and not an indication of an untreated eye condition. Often, a person's eyes adjust to their presence, and they become less and less noticeable over time.

However, there are some causes of floaters that can be vision-threatening. That's why it's always important to always have an eye exam if you notice an increase in floaters.

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What Causes Cataracts?

Cataracts are the result of the breakdown of the proteins in the lens of your eyes as you age. As they break down, these proteins collect on the lens and cloud your vision.

Cataracts most often develop slowly, taking years to impact a person's vision. Some of the signs of cataracts include cloudy or blurry vision, night blindness, the appearance of halos around lights, sensitivity to light, and lenses that appear milky or yellowy-white.

While cataracts are one of the most common age-related eye conditions, certain people are more likely to develop cataracts earlier in life. You may be at a higher risk for developing cataracts earlier in life if you have certain chronic health problems, drink excessive amounts of alcohol, have a family history of cataracts, or have suffered a past eye injury or have undergone a previous eye surgery.

Can Floaters Prevent Successful Cataract Surgery?

While the presence of floaters does not immediately disqualify you as a candidate for cataract surgery, it is important to determine the cause of the floaters before undergoing cataract surgery. Floaters can be a sign of a more serious eye condition, like a retinal hole or tear.

If you have both cataracts and floaters, you should have a fully dilated retinal exam before considering cataract surgery. During this exam, your ophthalmologist can assess the cause of your floaters and the health of your retinas.

Any issues with your retinas should be fully addressed before you have cataract surgery. While a retinal problem, like a retinal tear, might not prevent you from having cataract surgery, it can lead to long-term vision impairment.

Do you think it may be time for you to have cataract surgery?

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Does Cataract Surgery Get Rid of Floaters?

Restoring your vision with cataract surgery will not get rid of floaters caused by changes within the vitreous. That is because cataracts affect the lens of the eye, which is in front of the vitreous.

During cataract surgery, the clouded natural lens of the eye is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). The IOL permanently restores clear vision and prevents cataracts from reoccurring.

Ironically, one of the common side effects of cataract surgery is the appearance of floaters. This is because the vitreous can shift during surgery, dislodging loose cells.
Floaters caused by cataract surgery are usually temporary. They typically clear up on their own within a few weeks following surgery.

Are There Any Other Conditions that Would Prevent Cataract Surgery?

If you are experiencing symptoms of cataracts, it may be time to have cataract surgery. However, certain conditions may need to be treated first before you can have cataract surgery.

These conditions include:

  • Advanced macular degeneration
  • Extensive retinal detachment
  • Chronic eye infections
  • An uncontrolled health condition that has caused retinal damage
  • Corneal diseases, like glaucoma
  • Poor overall health

If you are considering cataract surgery to restore your vision but also are experiencing floaters, it is important to determine what is causing the floaters ahead of scheduling surgery. While floaters alone do not affect your ability to undergo cataract surgery, floaters caused by a serious, underlying eye condition may delay cataract surgery.

Are you wondering why floaters are affecting your clear vision, or are you experiencing symptoms of cataracts? Schedule an appointment at Chesapeake Eye Care Center in Annapolis or Easton, MD, today!