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Talking to Your Health Care Provider about Cataracts

by Rick Alan

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor or health care provider about your personal risk factors and/or experience with cataracts. By talking openly and regularly with your health care provider, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your health care provider:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and ask questions you may not have thought of.
  • Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Health Care Provider

About Cataracts

  • How do I know if I have a cataract?

About Your Risk of Developing Cataracts

  • Are there specific factors that put me at greater risk of getting cataracts?
    • For example, smoking or specific medications?
  • How often should I have my eyes examined for cataracts or other eye problems?
  • If I develop a cataract in one eye, does that mean I will develop a cataract in the other eye?

About Treatment Options

  • If I develop cataracts, should I have surgery immediately?
  • Are there any steps I can take to control the symptoms of cataracts?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • What measures can I take to help prevent developing cataracts?

About Surgery and Outlook

  • Will eye surgery return my vision to normal?
  • Is my cataract surgery an emergency?
  • What is the success rate for cataract surgery?
  • How much experience do you have with this procedure?
  • How soon after surgery will I be able to see well enough to go back to work? Drive a car? Return to full activity?
  • Do you recommend I have surgery now, or can I wait?

SOURCES:

American Academy of Ophthalmology


Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research


The Merck Manual of Medical Information, 17th edition. Simon and Schuster, Inc.;2000.


National Eye Institute



Last reviewed October 2004 by Kimberly Rask, MD, PhD


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