Necessity of Sunglasses Following Cataract Surgery
As cataracts progress, the resultant significant decline in vision leads to an endless list of collateral damage and problems. Widely reported is the considerable increase in major motor vehicle accidents with the devastating morbidity and mortality that comes with these collisions. Trip and fall accidents are far more prevalent in those with cataracts, at times causing broken hips, fracture limbs, and other bodily damage often requiring hospitalization and surgical repair. Occupational and vocational endeavors become far more difficult, thereby resulting in diminished productivity and enjoyment. Again, the list is endless.
However, there is an advantage of progressing cataracts in that, as they become more dense, not only are the beneficial visible light rays blocked, but also are the harmful UV and HEV light rays that can damage the macula in the center of the retina. An individual with a dense cataract will become legally blind and have a precipitous decline in performance of activities of daily living, however, this individual gains some level of macular protection.
People who had cataract surgery in the 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s have intraocular lens implants that provide NO protection from harmful UV or HEV light rays. The technology to embed protection within the lens implant did not exist at that time. Therefore, there are tens of millions who currently continue to enjoy the wonderful benefits from their cataract surgery in this era, but, unfortunately, there is zero mitigation of the deleterious effects of light rays from the UV and HEV spectrum. Dr. Alan Mendelsohn and Dr. Nathan Klein emphatically remind these patients that maximal sunglass protection while outdoors, during daylight hours, is vitally important. And yes, this includes while driving a vehicle or sitting as a passenger. Regrettably, the vast majority of sunglasses worn in South Florida have zero to negligible protection. That’s why Drs. Mendelsohn and Klein always request that you bring all of your sunglasses with you to each exam at Eye Surgeons and Consultants so that each pair can be evaluated for level of protection.
Very gratifyingly, the superb Acryosof lens implants that Dr. Mendelsohn uses (Acrysof Monofocal, Acrosof ReStor, Acrosof Toric, and Acrosof Toric ReStor) have embedded within them the most outstanding protection available anywhere to help protect against the harmful UV and HEV rays. This protection is invaluable for long-term macular health. Dr. Mendelsohn had laser cataract surgery performed on his own eyes in 2014 with the implantation of ReStor lens implants in both eyes. He is thrilled with his outstanding 20/20 vision for near AND distance, but also comforted by the macular protection afforded by the ReStor lens implant.
Even though the new generation of lens implants provide ocular protection, some harmful light rays do sneak through from the sun and other sources. As a result, Alan Mendelsohn, MD, FACS, and Nathan Klein, OD, advocate for wearing sunglasses with maximal protection outside during daylight hours. This sunglass protection further reduces the incidence and severity of ocular maladies, such as ocular melanomas, macular degeneration, drusen, pterygium, pingueculas, and eyelid cancers.
Commonly, with the newfound euphoria and enjoyment of being spectacle-free after a lifetime of constantly wearing eyeglasses, people forget about sunglass protection outdoors. Previously, they wore prescription sunglasses, but now that a prescription is no longer needed, sunglasses have become an afterthought. Drs. Mendelsohn and Klein strongly encourage all patients including those with perfect distance vision without eyeglass correction, to be diligent about wearing sunglasses. But please make sure that all of your sunglasses have correct protection, namely, UV 400 blocker and polarization, present on both lens surfaces. Our physicians want to preserve your newly acquired excellent vision following cataract surgery while concurrently preventing ocular maladies.