Diabetes: Is it safe for diabetics to undergo cataract surgery?

Diabetes can increase your risk of cataract. If you're a diabetic and wondering if it's safe to undergo cataract surgery, here are some tips for you.
Know about glaucoma myths and facts to help a loved one. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Dr Sudheer Verma Updated: 18 Oct 2023, 10:55 am IST

Diabetes is a common lifestyle disease, which can take a toll on other organs and systems of your body. It can even affect vision and eye health. According to research, people suffering from diabetes mellitus face an increased risk of cataract, which is one of the leading causes of blindness globally. Over the years, technology has eased the way cataract surgery is done. Still, when diabetics have to go undergo cataract surgery, they must keep certain tips in mind.

What is cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye that affects vision. While they are very common in older people, it’s important to know that they can occur at a much earlier age when you have diabetes.

Cataracts are two to four times more common in patients with diabetes than patients without diabetes. So, it can significantly impact visual function in the working population. Meanwhile, the main reason for performing cataract surgery treatment in diabetics is to either improve poor vision or to see the retina properly in order to assess and treat diabetic retinopathy.

While a lot of people can manage cataract at home, some need to undergo cataract surgery.

Diabetes can increase risk of cataract. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Tips for diabetics to prepare for cataract surgery

You may wonder if it’s safe for diabetics to undergo cataract surgery. But when preparing for cataract surgery, eye specialists have to consider a variety of factors, including other diseases and comorbidities. People with diabetes may also require special considerations, and a careful examination prior to surgery should be performed. It may be helpful to have an ophthalmologist involved.

1. Control your blood sugar levels

Prior to cataract surgery, it is mandatory to have well-controlled diabetes with both fasting and post-lunch blood sugar levels under control. There should be no evidence or traces of sugar in urine. Furthermore, there should be no sign of infection anywhere in the body. This is an important step which can ensure a complication free recovery after cataract surgery.

2. Go for a proper eye evaluation before cataract surgery

People having diabetes should undergo a detailed eye evaluation in the same manner as the other patients. However, more significance is placed on the retinal evaluation. It is also important to ascertain the presence of diabetic retinopathy. For example, if macular edema (swelling in the central part of retina) is present, it is mandatory to treat macular edema before cataract operation. Only after the treatment of macular edema, a cataract surgery should be scheduled. Additionally, depending on the stage of the diabetic retinopathy, retina laser treatment may also be required. If retinal lasers are required, it should be performed prior to the cataract surgery. Treatment of diabetic macular oedema by Anti VGEF injection can be combined with cataract surgery for better visual recovery.

Also read: Diabetes can blur your vision, so keep an eye on it

3. Use of eye drops

As advised by an ophthalmologist, eye drops should be started in patients with pre-existing diabetic retinopathy a week prior to cataract surgery and continue for at least four weeks after the surgery.

4. Dietary requirements

People with diabetes should stay with an empty stomach for a few hours prior to cataract surgery. Therefore it is better to get your operation scheduled early in the day. This is to ensure that the sugar levels do not vary too much due to an empty stomach.

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5. Be comfortable and avoid wearing make-up

A patient with diabetes should wear warm, comfortable, and practical clothing on the day of your surgery. Flat shoes with good, non-slip treading are the best possible options. Also, avoid wearing any makeup, perfume or cologne, aftershave, spray-on deodorant, or hairspray to the nearby surgical region. Thoroughly, remove any traces of these if applied, especially from around your eyes, the night before the surgery.

6. Follow your doctor’s advise

Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgery across the globe. Usually, it helps you to see more clearly. Because any surgery has risks, you can do your part to ensure success by following instructions from your eye doctor and working with your healthcare provider to keep your blood sugar under control and using any medications as suggested.

Dr Sudheer Verma

Dr Sudheer Verma is a senior consultant at Sharp Sight Eye Hospitals. With over 20 years of experience as an Ophthalmologist, he specialises in Cataract. He is also a Professor of Ophthalmology with National Medical Commission of India (NMC). ...Read More

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