Cataract Surgery: Should It Be Performed on One or Both Eyes?

September 30, 2016 — by Thomas Byrd, MD
Tags: Cataracts Cataract Surgery

An older woman reading to a childThe team here at Byrd Eye Clinic is committed to helping patients see their world better. We offer people throughout the greater Detroit area advanced eye care solutions as well as routine vision health procedures. When it comes to treating older patients, that often involves diagnosis and removal of cataracts.

There's been some discussion among patients and medical professionals about the cataract surgery procedure. Should an eye surgeon remove cataracts from both eyes in a single session or should the eye surgeon perform the procedure on just one eye at a time? Let's consider whether or not it is best to perform cataract surgery on both eyes rather than just one eye. Let's start by going over the basics.

About Cataracts

A cataract refers to the clouding of the naturally clear lens of the eye. This can be the result of injury, long-term exposure to UV rays, the use of certain medications or drugs, and the natural aging process. This results in blurry vision and potential vision loss.

Cataracts are quite common. By the age of 80, half of all Americans will have experienced them in some degree. Thankfully they can be treated through a routine removal surgery. Cataract removal will restore vision and through the excision of the clouded lens of the eye and the replacement of the original lens with an intraocular lens (IOL).

What Is Simultaneous Bilateral Cataract Surgery (SBCS)?

Also known as sequential bilateral cataract surgery, SBCS is the practice of performing cataract surgery on both eyes rather than on just a single eye. This is convenient for patients as well as eye surgeons since both eyes are treated in just one visit in the same day.

The Potential Advantages of SBCS

There are a few advantages to SBCS, which is why some eye surgeons choose to perform their cataract removals in this fashion.

  • Fewer Office Visits Needed – There is just one office visit required for SBCS rather than two, which means that patients as well as eye surgeons save a significant amount of time.

  • Reduction in Overall Recovery Time – On the note of time, SBCS means that patients will be able to cut their post-surgical recovery time in half. This is significant if the patient has a busy lifestyle.

  • Ensured Binocular Vision – If you have cataract surgery performed on just one eye, you will have to see the world using just one eye while waiting for the second surgery. This can lead to dizziness, discomfort, and frustration. This is not an issue with SBCS since both eyes are treated at once.

Disadvantages: Why SBCS May Not Be Ideal

Even though there are benefits to SBCS, many eye surgeons are hesitant to perform cataract surgery on both eyes. Yes, complication rates for cataract surgery are very low, yet the potential risk for complications in SBCS is, in some respects, doubled. With both eyes operated on, surgeons rarely wish to increase risks for their patients. Acting conservatively may take more time, but it is safer since it allows for proper monitoring of the recovery of both eyes.

Addressing the Needs of Patients at an Individual Level

During the consultation process, we will be sure to offer patients the individualized care they deserve. We will work to ensure ideal outcomes while minimizing the risk of vision loss and problems to eye health. If you are interested in SBCS, we can discuss these matters in greater detail so we come to a mutual understanding of our goals and your wellness.

Learn More About Cataract Surgery

To learn more about cataracts and how we can help remove them and improve your vision, be sure to contact our advanced eye care center today. The team at Byrd Eye Clinic is here to help you see clearly.

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