Because cataracts are simply a normal part of the eye’s natural aging process, YES, if we are fortunate to live long enough enough, virtually all of us will develop a cataract. In fact, in the United States, nearly 94% of the population will undergo cataract surgery.
A cataract is the lens of the eye which becomes cloudy or even opaque leading to a decrease in the ability to see clearly. Over time, this natural aging process diminishes the clarity of our vision. Cataracts actually begin to form when we are in our 40s and 50s and lose the ability to see up close. This condition is called Presbyopia and it is the first noticeable stage of the aging of the natural lens inside our eye.
Warning signs of possible cataract include blurring of vision, in the distance or up close, or both.
Difficulty with bright lights, either in bright sun or when faced with bright lights such as when driving at night that can cause significant glare symptoms is another possible sign. Inability to see well enough for normal activities of daily life is an important sign.
The only effective and best way to treat a cataract is with surgical removal and replacement of the cloudy lens with a new clear implant. (Without a lens implant most patients would require very thick lenses which can be almost as disabling as a cataract itself)
At the present time surgery is the only effective treatment for a visually significant cataract.
Yes, there are several IOL options patients can choose from that provide a variety of types of vision. These include specialty lenses to correct Astigmatism, multi-focal IOLs, tri-focal IOLs and even Light Adjustable IOLs. Your surgeon will go over your options with you based on the health of your eyes and your favorite hobbies or pastimes.
An outpatient cataract surgery, especially when done in a freestanding (not hospital associated) ASC, is definitely less expensive, less time consuming for the entire experience, and safest from the standpoint of less exposure to resistant and difficult to treat bacterial contaminants.
The patient will be checked in the front desk of the outpatient facility. They will then be brought back in the pre-operative area, where they are prepped for surgery. You may receive a relaxing intravenous anesthetic and then numbing eye drops before your surgery. Your surgeon will make the final decision on what type of anesthesia will be used during your procedure. After the procedure is completed, you will be brought back into a post-operative recovery area, given a light snack and beverage and be prepared for discharge.
The type of anesthesia we use depends on the patient. We typically use only topical anesthesia (eye drops) to perform cataract surgery. Patient may also receive a relaxing intravenous anesthetic prior to their procedure.
When a patient has a medical and/or visual complaint their evaluation and surgery, if medically indicated, are covered by Medicare and other medical insurances and plans.
In cataracts it is generally not recommended early as long as the cataracts are not interfering with visual task and needs, work and/or patient lifestyle. Once the need for surgery is determined and verified by exam to confirm this and to rule out other causes of visual disability it is generally better to get it done sooner rather than later! Waiting too long not only causes increased disability due to poor vision but also increases the risk of the procedure (although it is generally a very safe and easy to undergo procedure}! After the procedure many patients wonder why they waited so long when the experience the significant visual improvements and the ease of undergoing the procedure.
It should be noted that many ocular conditions ARE best diagnosed and treated early! Many of these will be identified during an evaluation for cataracts and include common conditions such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and macular degeneration or other retinal conditions.
ALL surgeries carry risk. However, cataract surgery is one of the safest, most effective and commonly performed surgeries today. Perhaps it would better to fear the consequences of not having this surgery when needed. These include Increasing visual inability to perform tasks of dally living, decreased enjoyment of leisure activities, decreased mobility due to Interference with driving and consequently maintaining an Independent lifestyle which is very important to people as they get older. Without needed cataract surgery people also suffer from decreased depth perception and this can lead to increased risk of falls and subsequent injuries which can be devastating!