There are some alternatives to cataract surgery in the early stages.
- Waiting. Cataracts typically progress slowly. Delaying cataract surgery won’t usually change the outcome of the procedure if you have it at a later stage. If you decide to delay surgery for now, your optometrist or ophthalmologist may recommend periodic reviews to monitor your cataracts and overall eye health.
- Vision correction. In the early stages, your optometrist or ophthalmologist may recommend a change in glasses or contact lenses to improve your vision.
- Some cataracts are reversible. If a disease like diabetes has caused your cataracts, they can sometimes be reversed early on by controlling your blood sugar.
- An eye drop containing an amino acid called acetylcarnosine is an experimental treatment for cataracts. There isn't enough evidence of its effectiveness to recommend it yet.
You can reduce your risk of cataracts worsening by:
- Avoiding prolonged exposure to sunlight and wearing sunglasses that block ultraviolet B rays when you go out in the sun.
- Giving up smoking.
Some studies show that an adequate intake of vitamin B12 can also reduce the risk of cataracts, but there's no evidence of herbal remedies being effective for prevention or treatment.
When your doctor may recommend surgery
Cataract surgery may be recommended when your vision becomes significantly impaired and glasses or contact lenses are no longer helping enough. Your cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens (lens implant). The implant remains as a permanent part of your eye.
Your doctor will usually operate on one eye at a time. It’s usual to wait for the first eye to completely recover before having surgery on the second eye.