Cataract Surgery is an important type of eye surgery that you should learn about as you get older. The chances that you will develop an eye Cataract as you age are quite high. Today, we know a great deal about the causes of a Cataract and the types of Cataract symptoms that disturb vision. Cataract Surgeons who are Ophthalmologists and Eye Surgeons-report that Cataracts have become an increasingly common cause of decreased vision as our population ages and lives longer. In fact eye Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss among people over 55. Cataract Surgery with an Intraocular Lens Implant (IOL) is one of the most frequent types of operations performed in the U.S. today. This may be a reflection of the changing demographics of our population. In 2006, 80 million “baby boomers” began turning 60 and it is estimated that in 2011 there were 40 million people above the age of 65 in our population-and by 2020 there will be close to 55 million! In the United States, the incidence of senile Cataract has been reported to be approximately 42% in those aged 52 to 64, 60% in those aged 65 to 74 and 91% in those aged 75 to 85.
Fortunately, if you are bothered by the symptoms of Cataracts, they are readily treatable. Cataract Surgeons and patients have benefited from advances in technology, making Cataract Surgery and Intraocular Lens Implants (IOL) not only one of the most frequently performed types of eye surgery but also one of the safest and effective types of surgery available in the United States today. Cataract surgery recovery is usually quite uneventful and Cataract Surgery problems and complications are infrequent.
Each year Cataract Surgeons in the United States provide Cataract Surgery to a growing number of patients. They successfully perform more than 3 million Cataract operations and restore vision after Cataract Surgery by implanting tiny, permanent artificial Intraocular Lens Implants or IOLs to achieve vision correction after surgery. The short recovery time after Cataract Surgery allows the vast majority of patients to resume their everyday activities within a day or so after their Cataract procedure.
For most people, the cost of Cataract Surgery is partially or completely covered by private insurance or Medicare, making cataract surgery costs a manageable expense. Patients considering eye cataract surgery should note that although the cataract surgery costs are covered, Medicare and most private insurances only cover the basic cost of an Intraocular Lens Implant and require that the patient pay personally for toric lens implants to correct astigmatism as well as the cost of Crystalens®, ReSTOR®, ReZoom™ or Tecnis® Multifocal Lens Implants as these are considered "premium" lens implants for vision correction.
The technology of Cataract Surgery is truly amazing. Modern Cataract Surgery is usually performed using a microsurgical technique called “phacoemulsfication” whereby the Cataract is gently “chopped up” and “suctioned” to remove it. There are many technological advances in Phacoemulsification that have enabled skilled Cataract Surgeons to perform Cataract Surgery and provide Lens Implants through very tiny incisions requiring only eye drops, rather than needles or injections for anesthesia and without the need for stitches or a patch after the surgery. This allows patients to have a very quick visual recovery. In most cases patients can have the added comfort and convenience of having their Cataracts removed in an outpatient ambulatory eye surgery center rather than a hospital. Even with the very high level of safety, efficacy and predictability, the technology for performing Cataract Surgery and Cataract operation procedures continues to advance through the use of lasers. Femtosecond Laser Cataract Surgery is rapidly emerging as a potential technology that uses the precision of the laser to facilitate an even greater level of success. Once a track record of measurable improvement is demonstrated it is likely that Cataract Surgery with lasers will become a useful clinical tool for eye surgeons. With surgeon direction and computer control, Laser Cataract Surgery offers the possibility of greater surgical precision typically demonstrated by incorporation of lasers into eye surgery procedures.
The technology of Lens Implants (IOL) has also improved dramatically. During the initial 15 years or so that Lens Implants were used for vision correction after Cataract Surgery they were designed and manufactured out of rigid materials and required a modest but significant incision in order to be implanted. Today, Lens Implants are manufactured from flexible and foldable materials allowing Cataract Surgeons to implant or “inject” them through very tiny incisions-so small that they do not even require stitches or sutures to close the incision. During the first 25 years or so that Lens implants were used for vision correction after Cataract Surgery, the goal was to simply correct distance or far vision, as best as possible. This often necessitated that patients wear eyeglasses to get the sharpest distance vision if they had astigmatism. Further virtually 90% or more of Cataract patients had to wear either reading glasses, bifocals or trifocals after Cataract Surgery in order to see at intermediate distances such as arms length and certainly for near vision or seeing things up close. Today, most Cataract Surgery Centers and their Cataract Surgeons are able to offer patients astigmatism correcting Toric Lens Implants as well as near vision and presbyopia correcting Lens Implants such as the Crystalens®, ReZoom™, Tecnis® Multifocal or AcrySof® ReSTOR® Lens Implant (IOL) to help patients minimize or possibly even eliminate their need for eyeglasses, reading glasses, bifocals or trifocals after Cataract Surgery.
Although patients with Cataracts today should be reassured that the technology of Cataract Surgery & Lens Implants along with the comfort, convenience and sophistication of outpatient cataract surgery centers can provide a safe and effective Cataract Surgery experience, the single most important choice one will need to make is in the selection of a Cataract Surgeon. Choose a Cataract Doctor who is a Cataract Specialist and who is experienced with the many types of IOLs available for correcting your vision and optimizing the Cataract treatment for your lifestyle needs.
By using the information available in this web site to learn about Cataracts, Cataract Surgery, Lens Implants, Cataract Surgeons and Cataract Surgery Centers you are taking the first step to becoming an educated patient who is able to make informed decisions about their eye care.