For many of us, the only thing scarier than personal health problems is the health problems of our loved ones. It can be especially scary if that loved one is reluctant to get the care they need, in the form of medication or surgery.

Almost half of all Americans will have cataracts by the time they turn 75. With the elderly population only projected to grow larger in the coming years, this means that there will be a significant number of people with cataracts, and you can bet that among that group will be individuals who do not want to get treatment.

For family members, this refusal by their parent, grandparent, or relative to get cataract surgery can be very painful to deal with, especially as they witness their loved one’s vision and quality of life deteriorate in spite of a safe solution. Ultimately, the final decision about how to treat cataracts is up to the individual, but there are steps you can take to help a loved one suffering from cataracts make the best decision for their health.

Understand Where They’re Coming From About Their Cataracts

For many people, the thought of any kind of eye surgery is terrifying. Your loved one may be worried about potential side-effects or believe there is a risk that they will go blind.

Do your best not to become patronizing or dismissive. Cataracts can cloud the vision so badly that a person is virtually blind, so it may seem counterintuitive that a person would fear cataract surgery because they are worried they might go blind. Nevertheless, do not laugh away their concerns or grow frustrated. Recognize their fears respectfully and try to engage in a no-pressure conversation about the details of the procedure and the statistics surrounding them.

To get started, you can tell your loved one with cataracts that the surgery is a safe, routine procedure that is performed on millions of people in the U.S. each year. The Review of Ophthalmology put the number at approximately 3.6 million cataracts surgery procedures in the United States.

Do not mislead them though. Cataract surgery is one of the safest eye surgeries, but any surgery comes with potential complications including loss of vision. That said, 98 percent of cataracts surgeries are highly successful.

Loved ones who are hesitant to undergo a surgical procedure to remove their cataracts may also be fearful of pain. Anesthetic eye drops are applied to the eyes, making them numb to whatever the doctor is doing. Furthermore, if a patient finds it especially difficult to relax, the doctor may administer a sedative to calm their nerves.

Treat Them Like An Adult When Discussing Their Health

As a society, we have a tendency to speak to older individuals in a patronizing manner. We may mean well, but it can build resentment, especially in the case of parents or grandparents where you are addressing personal matter of health or finances to someone who used to be your caregiver.

Your loved one’s health decisions are ultimately up to them. It can be a frustrating pill to swallow, but accepting that they have autonomy over their health choices does not mean you have to withdraw completely. It just means that you may have to rethink the tone you use to initiate these conversations. Avoid a confrontational approach. Try pointing out the benefits of the procedure and how their life can be significantly improved by getting rid of their cataracts. Remind them of activities they will be able to participate in again after they have regained clear vision.

The best place to continue this kind of conversation is in an eye doctor’s office. Your visit to Katzen Eye Group does not have to be primarily for cataracts. Encourage your parent, grandparent, or friend to come in for a routine eye exam where they can get no obligation information about how to deal with their cataracts from a Katzen Eye Group specialist. You can give us a call to book an appointment or stop by our Lutherville, Baltimore, or Rosedale locations today.