Cataracts occur when the eye's natural lens gets cloudy. The lens is a structure within the eye that is clear and responsible for focusing light that passes through the pupil. When a cataract forms, images may become blurry or dim. Some people describe the image as looking through a dirty window, while others may notice glare. They are a normal part of aging, but can also be related to family history, medications (commonly steroids), and trauma.
There are no medications or drops to rid your eyes of cataracts. The only treatment is surgery. Fortunately, cataract surgery is very successful, and patients do not need to wait until the lens is mature or ripe. When to have surgery depends on your vision and how much of your activities are affected by the cataract. Cataract surgery is an outpatient surgery that typically lasts for an hour, and many patients go back to work the next day. We are happy to help you determine if you are ready for cataract surgery, as well as work with Medicare and your insurance to cover the cost of surgery.
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What causes cataracts and how can I prevent them? There's no real way to prevent cataracts, as they are simply a part of aging and are caused by a natural buildup of protein in your eye's lens. Fortuneately, they can be treated with a common and generally safe surgery.
How can I learn more about cataract surgery and my lens options? Talking with your doctor is the best option to choose lens options. However, if you want a preview of what cataract surgery consists of as well as learn about some of the lens options, you can text "PREMIER" to 519519.
When am I likely to develop cataracts? People start to develop cataracts as early as their 40s, but generally don't start to notice symptoms of their cataracts until their 60s.
When should I get my cataract surgery? Usually, you only need to have cataract surgery when your cataracts start to affect your everyday vision. If you're having trouble reading, watching TV, or driving, it's time to talk to your eye care provider about next steps.
What are my replacement lens options? Depending on your needs, you can talk to your doctor about advanced-tehnology lenses that also correct cataracts and other vision issues, like astigmatism, presbyopia, or even astigmatism and presbyopia at the same time. These are often referred to as: Toric IOLs (that correct astigmatism to help you see far away), Multifocal IOLs (that correct presbyopia), and Multifocal toric IOLs (that correct astigmatism and presbyopia).
What other options do I have for cataract surgery? You and your surgeon can decide on whether you want to have a bladeless laser-assisted surgery or a manual surgeyr. Both techniques have been shown to be generally safe and successful.
When will my vision return back to normal? You can generally expect your vision to begin improving within a few days. If you wear glasses due to astigmatism and don't choose a lens that corrects astigmatism and cataracts, you will still need to wear glasses after surgery. Similarly, if you wear readers to help see up close and you don't choose a multifocal lens, you'll still need to wear glasses after surgery. Make sure you talk to your surgeon about what to expect after surgery.
Is there any way to correct my cataracts, besides surgery? No, but you can manage some of the early symptoms of catracts with new prescription glasses or contact lenses, and by wearing sunglasses to counteract light sensitivity until it's time to have surgery.
What will happen before I have the surgery? Generally, a week or two before surgery, your surgeon will let you know if there are any medications you should stop taking before th surgery, and test your eyes to see what replacement lens could give you the best visual outcome. If you have another condition that also affects how well you see, like astigmatism or presbyopia, your surgeon may discuss a replacement lens that could treat both during your cataract surgery. Talk to your eye care provider about the best options to free yourself from your cataracts, as well as your glasses. It is important to note that, while your health insurance typically covers the cost of convential surgery and a standard monofocal lens, some out-of-pocket expenses are associated with advanced-technology lenses, like an astigmatism-correcting lens or a multifocal lens. Make sure you ask your surgeon if they offer payment plans so that you can make a one-time investment to achieve better vision.
Will my choice of replacement lens make that much of a difference to my vision? The lens that you and your doctor choose can make a big difference in your vision after surgery. If you know you have astigmatism, then an advanced-technology lens that can correct both your cataract and astigmatism may be your best option for seeing things more clearly without glasses. If you have difficulty seeing up close due to presbyopia, there are also lenses available to help you see more clearly without relying on reading glasses as much.
What are the risks of cataract surgery? Cataract surgery is generally regared as one of the safest surgeries you can have. Although rare, risks can include: inflammation, infection, bleeding, swelling, retinal detachment, glaucoma, secondary cataract, or loss of vision.
My eye care provider said I have mature or advanced cataracts. What does this mean? Mature or advanced cataracts means that your cataracts have developed to the point that your lens appears to be mostly opaque and makes things difficult to see. When you have mature or advance cataracts, you will usually require surgery.
Interested in learning more about your options for cataract surgery?
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