When is a Cataract "Ripe?"

When is a Cataract "Ripe?"

I have always felt that this is a lousy analogy although used by many, many eye doctors.  It puts the patient in a more passive mode and relinquishes decision making to the doctor.  It sounds like there is a finite time to have cataract surgery and only the doctor can tell.  It is similar to going to the market and figuring out if a melon is ripe.  Does it feel right?  Does it smell right?  Does it sound right?  The fact is, you can, and should, be able to determine when cataract surgery is indicated.  

As with fruit, the cataract can get so far gone that it makes it more difficult to remove and may even cause problems associated with the over mature lens.  These lenses are termed “hypermature” cataracts and do require special techniques to remove.  These “hypermature” cataracts are so rare in the western world that I have seen on one in my career.  They basically don’t exist as cataract surgery is so accessible, that most cataracts are removed before progressing to this state.  

Cataracts cause blurry vision, glare and the need for more lighting.  Cataract surgery must meet certain criteria for insurance purposes, but basically can be removed when you can’t see as well as you’d like.  For instance, if you can’t read or see the TV well enough, can’t drive at night without tremendous glare, etc.

Many doctors use the fruit analogy to save time, as if, they know when your cataracts are bothering you.  Simply stating that they “aren’t ripe” puts you in a more dependant, passive mode.  Truth is cataract surgery is indicated when you want to see better and we, the doctors, agree that cataract surgery may help you.

Some people like bananas with no spots, yet other people like them with only spots.  Aren’t they both ripe?


Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Ophthalmologist/ Retina Specialist

  • Pingback:Katarakt tekrarlayacak olur ise | Op Dr ilker Biçer
    Posted at 14:21h, 27 August Reply

    […] not a retinal problem, cataracts can “return” and can mimic the symptoms of the original cataract; blurred vision, glare and distortion.  This can usually be remedied by a simple painless laser […]

  • jlakins
    Posted at 13:20h, 24 March Reply

    My opthamologist said that I need cataract surgery even though I have no symptoms and feel there is no need to improve vision. I do wear bifocals but have no blurriness, etc. My optomotrist seven months ago who examined my eyes for new lenses said the cataracts were very small and no problem. My opthoologist says seven months later that they are siuzeable and that because that I could not pass a driuvers test, even though I see well with glasses. Going back to optomotrist to have cataracts rechecked. I am very upset over all of this. Thanks for ;our help

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