The medical term “cataract” derives from the feeling that you are looking through a waterfall. In outdated common language, a cataract was a waterfall. Think of Cataract Canyon on the Colorado River in Utah, known for its many waterfalls.
A clouding of the eye’s own internal crystalline lens, a cataract is most commonly a result of aging. Other risk factors are long- term topical or systemic use of steroids, eye trauma, certain eye surgeries and having diabetes. A family history of early cataract formation also increases the chances of cataract at a younger age than average.
Most people over 60 have some level of cataract formation, but many are not bothered by them until later in life. Some are very sensitive to blur and glare at night, so those people have surgery to remove them earlier. Others wait until they are dense and mature.
Cataract surgery has become the most common surgery performed in the US that is covered by Medicare, and is one of the most successful procedures ever developed. More people are getting the surgery sooner rather than later due its safety and success and the fact that it can reduce the need for prescription glasses or contacts for many activities.
The procedure is painless and fast, so most patients go home immediately afterwards and see well the next day. Any surgery has risks, but the rate of major complications in cataract surgery is less than 1%.
You and your eye doctor will discuss the target for your post surgical focus. Usually patients want clarity at distance in both eyes, but some like to be focused at near without glasses, and instead of readers, they use distance glasses to see TV and drive. Some who have worn mono-vision contacts successfully choose to do the same correction after surgery – one eye near and one eye focused at far.
For a lens that focuses at both near and far, a patient can choose to pay extra for a multifocal lens. The same is true for higher levels of astigmatism. Those two specialized types of lenses are not covered by insurers, so out of pocket costs range from $1200 for an astigmatic lens and $2500 for a multifocal, per eye. Newer designs are being introduced almost yearly, and one that might soon radically change the landscape is a laser-tunable lens that doctors can lock in at some point in the post-op period to any focal distance that the patient desires.
Post-operative care is covered by insurers for 90 days no matter the lens type, and usually two or three visits are needed to ensure there are no issues that arise related to the healing process.
Contact us today to schedule an eye exam or to discuss your options regarding cataracts. We look forward to assisting you.