Did you know cataracts are the number one contributing cause of blindness worldwide? In the United States, however, that is not the case. With great strides to reversing this dilemma, cataract surgery with intraocular lens implantation is one of the most common outpatient procedures performed in the US, leading to renewed vision and longevity of eyesight.
The natural lens in our eye is located behind the iris, and it focuses light onto the retina, i.e., the back lining of our eye. Over time protein in the lens clumps or builds up in the layers of the lens, therefore, the lens yellows. This causes the vision to become cloudy and increases glare. When vision starts to change a person’s everyday lifestyle it’s time for cataract surgery.
There are several types of cataracts, and they can occur at all ages of life. A crucial type to focus on is age-related cataracts which can start to appear as early as the age of 50 and will slowly continue to progress. Environmental factors can cause cataracts to progress at a faster rate. Diabetes, certain medications, smoking and ultraviolet light can increase cataract progression as well. Cataracts are easily diagnosed during a routine eye examination.
Once other causes of decreased vision have been ruled out and glasses can no longer improve vision, it is time for surgery. Cataract surgery is performed by making an incision in the cornea, a clear dome over the iris, which is the colored part of the eye. Then the cataract is broken into pieces and aspirated out. Next, through the same small incision, a foldable intraocular lens is placed. The lens implant is needed to focus light on the retina. This procedure is clear cornea incision (CCI) cataract surgery and can be done the standard way or by laser. With standard CCI, the surgeon makes the 2-3 mm incision and then uses high-frequency sound to break up the cataract. With laser-assisted cataract surgery the laser “does it all.”
There are several implant choices currently available, each with their own advantages and specific purposes. Monofocal implants will focus at one distance. So if a patient wants sharp distance vision, these implants can achieve that, but reading glasses will be needed for crisp up close vision. Toric implants are available to correct astigmatism and will give great distance vision. There are also multifocal and accommodating Intraocular Lenses implants . With these lenses, a patient can achieve distance and reading vision. While this is preferable and beneficial for a lot of people, it is not right for everyone. A patient should be well-educated on the possible outcomes of multifocal lenses and that they are not a guarantee of being glasses-free.
With any treatment, the cost is always just as big a decision to factor in as the actual procedure. Standard cataract surgery with a monofocal lens implant is generally covered by insurance. Laser assisted cataract surgery will have an upcharge of approximately $1400/eye over insurance and is not covered by insurance. Toric and multifocal lenses also have an additional charges above the laser upcharge also not covered by insurance.
Cataract surgery is amazing and the results are often life-changing. Drs. Kornilow and Ridenour can guide you on the correct implant procedures for healthy eyes that last a lifetime.