Does your vision seem blurrier than normal?
Are you finding it harder to drive at night because you see halos or glare from oncoming traffic?
These are common signs of cataracts. Cataracts are a natural part of the aging process, but they can develop for other reasons as well.
What Is a Cataract?
A cataract is a clouding over the lens of the eye that develops from protein clumps in the lenses. Cataracts usually develop slowly in adults over age 40. They are a frequently occurring condition that is part of the aging process.
Age-related cataracts are the most common type of cataracts. Some cataracts are caused by disease, other eye surgeries, steroid use, trauma, or radiation exposure.
What Are the Symptoms of a Cataract?
Common signs and symptoms of a cataract include:
- Blurry vision
- Poor night vision
- Glare from headlights or sunlight seems too bright
- Halos around lights
- Colors appear more faded
- Double vision
What Should I Do if I’m Told that I Have a Cataract?
Many people have early-stage cataracts for years before considering surgery. We recommend that you have an annual dilated eye examination every one or two years to track your cataract progression. If you are having trouble reading, use brighter lights and a magnifier.
Most ophthalmologists recommend cataract surgery when patients feel that a cataract is interfering with their job, driving, or quality of life.
What Are the Treatment Options for a Cataract?
Cataracts cannot be treated with medication or medical devices. Surgery is the only option for removing cataracts from the eye. It is a simple outpatient surgery that takes less than a half-hour to complete.
Does Insurance Pay for Cataract Surgery?
Medicare and most other insurances pay for cataract surgery when it’s considered medically necessary. Contact your insurance company to determine prior approval requirements and what co-pays and deductibles you may be responsible for.
Most insurances, including Medicare, will pay for a standard monofocal intraocular lens that corrects for one distance. Patients may choose a “premium” intraocular lens with more features, but they are responsible for the cost of the lens.
Types of Intraocular Lenses (IOLs)
Many people don’t realize that there have been wonderful advances in technology that allow cataract patients to see near, far, and in-between with intraocular lenses. Dr. Barsam can discuss the benefits and costs of these lenses with you.
Monofocal IOLs are the most common type of lenses used in cataract surgery. The vision prescription can only be set for one focus: distance, medium, or up-close.
- Multifocal IOLs contain zones that can be set for both distance and near vision. The brain learns to select for the focus it needs.
- Accommodative IOLS can move or change shape inside the eye, allowing focus at different distances.
- Toric IOLs correct the refractive error caused by astigmatism.
What Happens During Cataract Surgery?
During cataract surgery, anesthetic eye drops are used to numb the eye. Most patients are awake during the procedure and feel no pain. If you’re anxious about the procedure, your doctor may give you medication to help you relax.
Dr. Barsam will enter the eye through tiny incisions made with a laser or blade near the edge of the cornea. He will then remove the clouded natural lens from your eye.
After removing the lens, he’ll replace it with an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens (IOL). Sometimes an ultrasound is used to break up the cloudy lens and remove it from the eye with suction.
What Should I Expect after Cataract Surgery?
Most patients recover quickly from cataract surgery. Most can usually resume normal activities such as exercise or driving within a week.
It is important to carefully follow the post-operative instructions that your doctor gives you. You will need to insert eye drops at decreasing intervals for about a month. While recovering:
- Do not rub the eye.
- Protect the eye while sleeping and during activity.
- You may need new eyeglasses after both of your eyes stabilize.
What are the Risks of Cataract Surgery?
Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries performed in the U.S. Although it is a delicate surgery, it is very safe. A small percentage of patients do develop complications such as:
- Eye infections
- Bleeding in the eye
- Ongoing swelling of the front of the eye or inside of the eye.
- Swelling of the retina
- Detached retina
- Vision loss
- Movement of the IOL implant
Dr. Barsam can explain the procedure as well as any possible complications that you need to know about at your cataract screening. Your cataract screening is the perfect time to ask any questions you may have about the procedure. This will allow you to feel more comfortable before having cataract surgery.
Think that you may have cataracts or need cataract surgery? Schedule a cataract screening with Dr. Barsam at Barsam Vision Care and Aesthetics Center in Waltham, MA!