Tennis and Cataracts

A health question from a reader, “George, I am scheduled for cataract surgery in June and I would appreciate any advice / experience your readers have regarding the surgery, types of lens etc.  Especially as it relates to tennis. Thanks in advance. Arnie Vance”

What Are Cataracts?

According to Gulf Coast Eyecare, “A cataract is a very common eye condition that affects over 24 million Americans. Cataracts occur when the eye’s natural lens hardens and becomes cloudy. This can reduce the ability of the lens to properly pass light to the retina and result in a range of visual symptoms. Cataracts frequently develop with age, but less commonly may affect younger people as a result of a congenital defect or an injury.

“In the early stages of a cataract, symptoms are mild and you may be able to find improvement with glasses or brighter lighting. However, as symptoms inevitably progress surgery is the only option for the treatment of cataracts. Cataract removal is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in the United States and is widely regarded to be safe and effective.”

What Lens to Use?

According to Your.MD, “Success of replacement lens treatment for cataracts usually involves surgery to replace the clouded natural lens with an artificial monofocal lens, which has just one strength of focus. A monofocal lens will usually restore good distance vision, but you may still need reading glasses for close work.

“Sometimes, the natural lens is replaced with either a multifocal lens or an accommodating lens, which allows you to focus on both near and distant objects.

“Some patients who have a multifocal lens fitted may not need to wear glasses at all after surgery. A review of studies by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) showed that 68% of patients who had multifocal lenses implanted needed glasses after their operation, compared with 95% of patients given monofocal lenses.”

My brother, a retired optometrist and cataract surgery patient says, “I don’t think your near vision is as important as distance. Therefore, I don’t recommend the “smart lens” for tennis.”

Anyone have experience/expertise on this subject?

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14 thoughts on “Tennis and Cataracts

  1. My cataract surgery was very successful with one key element as I saw it: You have to choose between the lens options. One of the options gives you a chance to not need reading glasses which seems great. However, this diminishes your depth perception some, probably not significant for non athlete but not ideal for tennis. I chose distance correction only for both lens and my tennis vision was superb right away. I have heard from several serious tennis players that they picked the no reading glasses option without being told it was not ideal for tennis , and they were not pleased with their on court vision. One went back and got the non distance vision only lens replaced and was much happier with the tennis vision. Hopefully a qualified person will elaborate, confirm, and/or improve what I just presented. I skipped medical and optometry schooling.

    Winder, great “insight” to the issue. 🙂 thanks, george

  2. Just had my yearly optometrist appointment Saturday. No problem cataracts. Well, there goes another excuse for bad calls.

    Dave, as fast as you serve, the only real defense IS bad calls! george

  3. I opted for Toric lenses after Cataract surgery several years ago which also fixed my astigmatism. Now I continue to see perfectly for distance (tennis) but use Walmart glasses to read.

    Bruce, hope all is well in NJ. thanks, george

  4. My cataract surgery was a piece of cake. Not even the slightest pain. I had regular surgery, not laser. I also used distance lenses and eyes are now 20/20 but still need reading glasses. Surgeries were a week apart, eye patch came off after 24 hours. Amazing improved vision as well major change of colors. Did not play tennis for several weeks after surgery (I don’t recall how long now). Best and easiest surgery ever!

    Larry, great results. thanks, george

  5. I agree with Winder’s evaluation. For non-athletes it is nice to have the bifocal lenses implanted, but for athletes who require rapid eye movements, it is preferable to have the mono-vision lenses implanted for better vision on the move.

  6. Definitely get the more expensive lens that adjusts to distance. The other ones only correct for either close up or distance and you need glasses for the other. I have those in both eyes and for tennis, hunting, tying on flies when fly fishing etc etc they adjust to any circumstance without artificial aids. I am 79 and have had them for several years now.

  7. Guys-
    I’m going to have surgery in June… long before I can play tennis again?

  8. I had cataract surgery over 20 years ago with the no reading glasses option and have enjoyed reading newspapers and restaurant menus since then without glasses. For tennis, had no problem adjusting – seems like the brain adapts but, from other comments, seems like that doesn’t work for everyone.

  9. Hi Arnie!
    I would suggest to get the monofocal lens for tennis so that you can see 20/20 for distance. I heard of many problems with the smart lenses. One of my team mates
    had the smart lenses put in and he could not pick up the ball at all. He could not play tennis for two years and just recently after many laser corrections is starting to play again. Just not worth the risk with tennis.

  10. Great surgery! Got rid of contacts and glasses. Except for reading. I opted to have both new lens set up for long distance. Great for tennis and driving.

  11. I had the surgery in September. I waited until the third quarter of the year for the arrival of the new panoptic lens that allows clear vision at every distance. It’s like having youthful eyes again. No glasses, no contacts. If you have Medicare, all but $700 is covered for the surgery (unless you have a supplement, then up to 100%), but you have to pay for the lenses. I used Dr. Farrel Tyson of Tyson Eye Care, $3400 for each eye, $6800 total. He’s very personable, and does the surgery himself. The whole operation took 45 minutes, the actual surgery 5 minutes. I highly recommend him and the panoptic lenses. If you do this, have the old lens removed with the knife. Don’t pay extra for laser removal, $1400 each eye. Not necessary. He is very skilled with the knife, thousands of surgeries. I hope this helps. Dan Toppin.

  12. About five years ago I had one nearsighted eye changed to farsighted. My distance vision is now excellent, but I am frustrated by no longer being able to read a menu or newspaper without glasses. My other( non-ripe) eye has some astigmatism so I continue to wear glasses for that and would anyway playing for UV protection and transition lens. If I were doing it now I would remain nearsighted as I wear glasses anyway for UV protection/transition(sunglasses).

  13. As a practicing ophthalmologist myself, teaching eye surgery for 50 years, I would consider one of the premium multifocal lenses, as it has distance, intermediate and near vision in the same lens. I have enjoyed monovision for 20 years with one eye set for distance and one eye for near, but depth perception is not as good. Finally cataracts caught up with me, too. With my new multifocal lens I can see the ball served, coming over the net, and coming off the court. Great fun. Jim Rowsey, MD

  14. If I’m reading the above accurately, sounds like Dr.’s Rowsey and Tyson are in agreement. If I should live long enough to benefit from such surgery, I’d seek someone like them out.

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