A CATARACT IS A CLOUDINESS OR OPACITY IN THE NATURAL LENS OF THE EYE THAT SITS BEHIND THE IRIS.
It impairs vision by blocking and scattering incoming light. Cataract surgery is performed when normal activities [working, reading, and driving] become difficult. Cataract development is very common and occurs in 60% of older adults and affects 24 million Americans. There are multiple factors associated with cataract development including ultraviolet light exposure, diabetes, drug use, smoking, and unfortunately the natural process of aging.
CATARACTS CAUSE IMPAIRMENT OF VISION THAT IS NOT CORRECTABLE WITH EYEGLASSES.
This interferes with everyday activities such as reading, watching television, driving, and working. Impairments are commonly caused by blurred vision and loss of contrast. Nighttime vision is decreased by glare, halos, and starbursts. If you are having only difficulty with reading you may have Dysfunctional Lens Syndrome and may benefit from a Dysfunctional Lens Replacement Surgery. Learn more here about DLS.
WHEN CONSIDERING CATARACT SURGERY, KEEP THESE QUESTIONS IN MIND:
AN EYE EXAM AND SEVERAL DIAGNOSTIC TESTS ARE PERFORMED INCLUDING:
CATARACT SURGERY IS PERFORMED BY AN OPHTHALMOLOGIST AT AN OUTPATIENT AMBULATORY SURGERY CENTER [ASC].
This means you don’t have to stay in the hospital. The cataract surgery takes about 15 minutes. You’ll be free to go home 30 minutes after the surgery is completed.
“You’ll be free to go home 30 minutes after the surgery is completed.”
CATARACT SURGERY IS DONE USING A TOPICAL ANESTHETIC [EYEDROPS] COMBINED WITH “TWILIGHT” OR CONSCIOUS SEDATION.
Conscious sedation is a technique where a small dose of anesthesia is given to induce a “twilight” or sleepy state. Twilight anesthesia is designed to make you feel more comfortable during cataract surgery.
THERE ARE THREE BASICS STEPS TO CATARACT SURGERY:
LASER CATARACT SURGERY HAS BEEN USED TO REMOVE CATARACTS FOR THE PAST DECADE.
It makes cataract surgery more precise and accurate by replacing the need for hand-held instruments for certain steps. It also softens the cataract, so less energy is used. Using less energy may lead to a quicker visual recovery but overall the outcomes are similar.
BOTH METHODS HAVE PROVEN SUCCESS RATES
If independence from glasses is desired, laser cataract surgery can be used to reduce the amount of astigmatism. Astigmatism is a refractive error where the eye does not focus light evenly on the cornea.
AN INTRAOCULAR LENS [IOL] IS AN ARTIFICIAL LENS THAT REPLACES THE CATARACT TO RESTORE FOCUS AND VISION.
There are three different IOLs to use, and the right one depends on post-surgery goals. If the desire is to simply see better, and you don’t mind wearing glasses, then Basic Cataract Surgery is recommended. The “single vision” or monofocal implants used in basic surgery are superb but eyeglasses may be needed to achieve optimal vision. Single vision lenses focus the vision usually for the distance and then readers are needed for near vision.
IF IT IS IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO SEE WITHOUT GLASSES AFTER SURGERY, THIS CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED THROUGH CUSTOM CATARACT SURGERY.
This surgery allows ophthalmologists to go above and beyond what Medicare and private insurers cover and, as such, the implants and techniques used are not covered by insurance. If astigmatism is present a special lens called a toric IOL can be used. A toric lens will provide the best distance vision without the use of eyeglasses but readers may be needed. Visit the Johnson & Johnson Vision Simulator to Explore All the Lens Options. A link is provided at the bottom of this page.
The Symfony Lens, Panoptix Trifocal Lens, and Vivity are the newest available lenses. Unlike “single vision” lenses, these lenses are designed to help patients see over a range of distances. They provide high quality vision from the far distance to about arm’s length to minimize the use of eyeglasses. To keep it simple, the Symfony or Panoptix Lens is like wearing a +1.5 D reading glass. This gives good intermediate performance while maintaining excellent distance vision.
1. Tiny circular grooves extend the range of vision
2. Haptics, or side struts, hold the lens in place
“Minimizes the use of eyeglasses.”
THE SYMFONY/PANOPTIX/VIVITY LENSES HAVE RECEIVED POSITIVE REVIEWS DUE TO ITS RANGE OF CLEAR VISION.
Although glasses may still be needed for prolonged reading; 85% of the day will be glasses free such as when using a cell phone, computer, looking at photos, reading magazines or menus. Depending on pupil size, the Symfony lens can cause slightly more halos at night (8% vs 2% for a standard lens). These halos become less noticeable over time.
85% REPORT “LITTLE TO NO” USE OF GLASSES
CATARACT SURGERY IS A MEDICALLY NECESSARY PROCEDURE AND COVERED BY MOST HEALTH INSURANCES EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE “VISION INSURANCE”.
Costs of the patient can vary, depending on your responsibility for your copay and your annual deductible. Medicare, for example, pays 80% of the cost of cataract surgery after you have met your deductible. If you have a Medicare supplemental plan, then they generally cover the other 20%. Dr. Anderson also offers self pay [cash] cataract surgery starting at $2500-$3000 per eye.
ADVANCEMENTS IN TECHNOLOGY AND SURGICAL TECHNIQUES HAVE MADE CATARACT SURGERY A COMMON AND SAFE PROCEDURE.
According to the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS), 3 million cataract surgeries are performed annually, with an overall success rate of 98 percent. With any surgery, there is a small risk of potential complications including retinal detachment and infection. Dr. Anderson minimizes the risk of retinal detachment by combining a careful dilated eye exam with an Optos Wide Field Retina Camera. The risk of infection is minimized by placing antibiotics inside the eye at the end of surgery.
A RECENT STUDY SHOWED A 60% LOWER RISK OF DEATH
According to a large 20 year study of 74,000 women aged 65 and older, there was a 60 percent lower risk of death among the 42,000 women who had their cataracts removed. A New York Times article highlighted that when people can see better, “they can also move more and get more exercise. They can see their pills better and may be more likely to take them and take the right ones. The surgery also improves visual contrast, which decreases the risk of accidental deaths from falls or driving.”
A PCO IS A THICKENING OF THE LENS CAPSULE.
This occurs after cataract surgery and causes hazy vision. It is fairly common but easily treatable in the office with a laser. This procedure is painless with a fast recovery.
“This procedure is painless with a fast recovery.”
PLEASE AVOID ANY FOOD OR LIQUID FOR 6 HOURS PRIOR TO SURGERY
To prepare for surgery, make arrangements for a ride to and from the surgery center. On the day of surgery, avoid any food or liquid for 6 hours prior to cataract surgery. If you are on a blood pressure or heart medicine, please take these with a sip of water. The entire cataract surgery will take about 3 hours. Wear comfortable clothes, and avoid wearing eye make-up on the day of surgery.
Here are a few instructions to follow after cataract surgery:
CATARACT SURGERY HAS A QUICK RECOVERY TIME
Most people are back to light activities within 2-3 days and return to work within 1 week.
“Most people are back to work within a week.”
With today’s advancements in cataract lenses, you now have a choice in what lens is implanted. To help in the decision process, Johnson & Johnson Vision has developed a simulator that details the vision changes that can occur from a cataract and all of the available lenses. This simulator can help in making a lens decision but a detailed discussion with your ophthalmologist about your cataract surgery goals is most important.