What Is a Cataract?
A cataract is a condition wherein the natural lens in your eye becomes cloudy or yellowed and hardened, resulting in diminished or distorted vision. Cataracts typically come about as you age, but the onset may be earlier than you think. Because of this, it’s important to receive regular eye exams and be aware of the symptoms of cataracts.
What Are Cataract Symptoms?
Common cataract symptoms include:
- Blurry vision
- Nighttime glare
- Double vision
- The need for extra light to read
- Seeing bright colors as dull or yellow
What Causes Cataracts?
Age appears to be the most common cause of cataracts. As we age, the natural arrangement of proteins in the lens breaks down, causing the proteins to eventually cluster together, clouding the lens and creating the cataract. However, exposure to UV rays, eye injury, genetic disorders, smoking, and diabetes have also been linked to the formation of cataracts. In fact, even children can develop pediatric cataracts for some of these same reasons.
What Are the Cataract Treatment Options?
You may be able to improve cataract symptoms with a different eyeglass prescription, better lighting, or by using magnification devices. However, if your symptoms continue to progress, the only effective treatment is surgery.
Cataract surgery is most commonly performed as an outpatient surgery, and can often take as little as 10 minutes from start to finish.
The objective of cataract surgery is to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a clear, artificial lens that’s known as an intraocular lens (IOL). A local anesthetic is used to numb the eye, and patients are sedated but remain awake for the procedure.
During the surgery, an incision is made in the cornea to gain access to the clouded lens. A probe with an ultrasonic vibrating tip is inserted and used to break apart the cataract, while simultaneously suctioning out the pieces through a process called phacoemulsification. Once the cataract is removed, an IOL is inserted in its place.
Standard cataract surgery is performed using a scalpel to make the incision, and the IOL that is inserted is a mono-vision lens. Prescription eyeglasses will be needed for your best vision at all distances.
Our premium cataract surgery is performed using a laser and provides options for the implantation of a lens that can correct for astigmatism or allow for multi-focal vision. Premium cataract surgery can improve your overall vision to such an extent that it can reduce or even eliminate the need for prescription glasses.
Cataract Surgery Recovery
Immediately following the surgery you will wear a protective shield over your eye for a few hours and may continue to wear the shield for several more days if needed, especially to help guard against rubbing during sleep. You will typically see your surgeon for a follow-up appointment either that same day or the day after the surgery in order to ensure there are no complications. Your doctor may also choose to prescribe eye drops to protect against infection or lessen inflammation.
Vision in the surgical eye will initially be blurry as your eye heals and adjusts to the new lens, although many patients see visual improvement the same day. Some discomfort is normal but usually ceases within a couple of days. Normally, within weeks the eye is completely healed.
Once your eye is healed, your doctor will examine you to determine visual acuity with the new lens in place, and provide you a new eyeglass prescription if needed.
What Does Cataract Surgery Cost?
The cost of standard cataract surgery depends on many factors that are primarily related to your healthcare coverage, its deductibles, and co-pay requirements. Fortunately, cataract surgery is the most performed surgery in the country, so Medicare and major health insurance plans will cover it. Therefore, it might be more affordable than you think.
Premium cataract surgery options are available at an upgraded price over standard cataract surgery. These options can reduce or eliminate your dependence on glasses after surgery. Our premium cataract surgeons can help you decide which option is best for you.