Macular Degeneration and Cataracts: Post Cataract Eye Surgery Concerns

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elderly man looking at object with magnifier
by Dougherty Laser Vision

As we age, two eye conditions that can develop are macular degeneration and cataracts. Macular degeneration occurs when the macula becomes damaged. The macula affects the central vision when looking forward. It can become difficult to see clearly, drive, and read.

One of the more common symptoms is noticing your vision does not appear to be as detailed or sharp as it used to be. This symptom is also one of the more common symptoms of cataracts. Other shared symptoms include:

  • Sensitivity to bright lights like at night when driving.
  • The need to use more light to see.
  • When the eye deciphers colors, they look faded and not as bright.

Cataracts are an eye condition where the lenses of the eyes begin to cloud over. As it progresses, the cloudiness in the lens makes it difficult to see. Images and text become blurred. The cloudiness prevents light from passing through to the retina and makes it harder for the eyes to focus.

Why is Macular Degeneration Discovered Post Cataract Eye Surgery?

Since both eye conditions have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell when people suffer from both conditions. Diagnosing macular degeneration is easy if you do not have cataracts. However, if you have cataracts, it can be hard to tell if you also have macular degeneration until after cataract eye surgery.

Cataracts can prevent your ophthalmologist from viewing the rear of the retina where macular degeneration occurs. Macular degeneration can continue to develop right along with the cataract. Eventually, the cataract does need to be removed to prevent total blindness.

It is after the cataract has been removed that the ophthalmologist may discover the surgery has failed to improve their patient’s vision. Sadly, the worst thing about finding out about macular degeneration at this point is the disappointment one can feel because their vision still has not improved.

Is There Eye Surgery for Macular Degeneration?

There is currently no cure for macular degeneration. However, thanks to advances in laser eye technologies, laser eye surgery for macular degeneration can be performed that helps seal the leaking blood vessels and slows the progression of the disease.mature ophtalmologist showing eye mockup to senior patient

Leaking blood vessels is one of the common symptoms caused by the “wet form” of macular degeneration. There is abnormal growth of blood vessels underneath the macula. As they leak out fluid into the eye, it can scar the macula and cause vision loss.

The “dry form” of macular degeneration is where there is a breakdown of cells in the macula that are sensitive to light. As the cells degrade, the effect on vision is not always as significant as it is with the “wet form” of macular degeneration.


Before you can get laser eye surgery for macular degeneration, your ophthalmologist will need to determine whether you have the “wet form” or “dry form” of the disease. Additionally, if you have cataracts, they will need to be removed first and the eye will need to be allowed to heal first.

To find out more about macular degeneration and cataracts and laser surgery treatments, please feel free to contact Dougherty Laser Vision at (805) 953-7052 to schedule a free consultation today! We have vision centers in Westlake VillageBeverly HillsCamarillo, San Luis Obispo, Encino, and Simi Valley.