June is cataract awareness month. Cataracts slowly degrade your vision, but modern cataract surgery is both safe and effective with a greater than 95% success rate.
Cataracts can begin forming as early as age 40, but they develop slowly and usually don’t cause visual impairment until age 60 or older. Most insurance plans and Medicare cover the cost of cataract surgery.
What are cataracts?
As we age, the proteins that make up the lens of the eye can become altered and this protein alteration causes the cloudiness that is a cataract.
There are three primary types of cataracts and depending on the type of cataract, the visual symptoms range from blurry vision to sensitivity to bright lights. Sometimes cataracts are a combination of types, and in that case they would cause both blurry vision and sensitivity to bright lights.
Many people think that cataracts form over the front of your eyes, but cataracts form inside your eye. They form on the lens of the eye, which is behind the iris (colored part) of your eye. Muscles hold the lens in place and are essential to focusing. When the muscles tighten or relax they change the shape and thickness of your lens and this change in shape allows you to “accommodate” and focus on both near and far objects.
Cataracts most commonly affect both eyes, but it is possible for a cataract to develop in only one eye. This is especially likely if you have had an injury in that eye.
To slow the development of cataracts, don’t smoke, protect your eyes from UV rays with UV-blocking sunglasses and eat a healthy diet.
How is cataract surgery performed?
If cataracts are interfering with your daily activities, cataract surgery can clear up your vision. It is an outpatient procedure that requires only local anesthetic, a small incision, and the insertion of an artificial lens. No stitches are required. The procedure only takes about 15 minutes and most patients have improved vision within 24-48 hours.
Today’s advanced artificial lenses can be monofocal or multifocal. A monofocal lens corrects your distance vision and you will need reading glasses for close work. A premium multifocal lens “accommodates” and enables you to see objects at more than one distance. Medicare covers the cost of monofocal artificial lenses.
We look forward to seeing you. If you have questions or want to make an appointment, please give us a call.