My vision is not as sharp as it once was. How do I know if I have cataracts?

The only way to determine if you have cataracts is to visit an eye care professional for a complete eye examination. Typical symptoms of cataracts include cloudy or blurry vision, poor night vision, double vision, colors seem faded, glare or halos, and light sensitivity.

Is there alternative treatment for cataracts other than surgery?

The only effective treatment for cataracts is surgery to remove the diseased lens. Neither diet nor medications have been shown to stop cataract formation. In cataract surgery, the eye’s natural lens is removed and replaced with a permanent intraocular lens (IOL). Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgery covered by Medicare in the United States.

What are the risks of cataract surgery?

As with any surgical procedure, there is a risk of infection after cataract surgery. Post-op infection is very rare, occurring in less than one in every 5,000 cases.  A full listing of potential risks and side-effects will be provided to you with your informed consent.

After surgery, when can I resume normal activities such as travel, swimming, and exercise?

You can hop on a plane the day of surgery if you’d like. There are swimming restrictions for 7 days. You can still get in the water to cool off, but no putting your head under water for 7 days after surgery. As for exercise, we’d like you to rest a few days but then can resume your normal routine. Just remember to protect your eyes for a few weeks.

Will I be able to drive myself home after my surgery?

No, not the day of surgery. The light sedation you receive will make you less responsive behind the wheel of the car. Therefore, for your safety and for the safety of others on the road, you will need a driver.

Are stitches required after cataract surgery?

One of the newest advances in cataract surgery is the ability to remove the cataract and implant an intraocular lens through a small incision. New techniques for making incisions have, in most instances, eliminated the need for stitches following cataract surgery.

What results can I expect to experience with my vision?

Over 90% of people achieve vision better than 20/30 after cataract surgery, as long as no other eye diseases are present (for example, a retinal condition). For those who opt for a monofocal intraocular lens implant, reading glasses are typically needed after cataract surgery (in many cases they were also required before surgery). Choosing a multifocal lens, however, will substantially reduce a patient’s dependence on reading glasses after cataract surgery.

Will insurance cover my cataract surgery cost?

Standard cataract surgery, using a monofocal IOL, is typically covered by most medical insurance plans as a “functional” eye surgery. Medicare covers this procedure, subject to the usual deductibles and co-payment requirements.

Because cataract surgery is the most common procedure surgery covered by Medicare, and accounts for a large percentage of Medicare expenditures, the Federal government has decided that it will not cover the additional costs associated with Premium  Vision multifocal lens implants. Not only do these lenses cost more (8 to 10 times the cost of a monofocal lens), but the pre-operative and post-operative care required is substantially more resource intensive. Medicare has, however, agreed to cover the cost of cataract extraction and monofocal lens implantation, leaving the patient responsible only for the incremental fees associated with the deluxe multifocal lens. These fees are tax-deductible as a necessary medical expense, and are eligible for reimbursement through a medical flex spending account, should you or your spouse participate in one.

For more information regarding the affordability of cataract surgery, please click here.

What’s the difference between a standard (monofocal) and a premiumvision (multifocal) lens implant?

Until recently, a standard, monofocal intraocular lens, which cannot change shape, has been the traditional implant for cataract surgery. Its power is usually calculated to maximize a patient’s distance vision so that the patient can see well enough to do most things without glasses. Reading glasses must still be worn to see up close up.

In 2005, the FDA approved the first major innovation in Intraocular Lens Implant (IOL) technology in decades; the premium, multifocal lens. This deluxe implant, which replaces the natural lens in the same fashion as the standard, monofocal lens, gives good distance AND near vision, thereby lessening dependence on glasses.

If I undergo cataract surgery now, is there a possibility I may need cataract surgery again in the future?

No. Once you have cataract surgery and we replace your eye’s natural lens with an intraocular lens implant (IOL), you will never need cataract surgery again. Occasionally patients experience some clouding in their vision months after cataract surgery due to scarring behind the lens capsule. When this occurs, we do a simple YAG laser treatment, also known as a posterior capsulotomy, to eliminate any scar tissue, thus restoring your vision back to normal.   Approximately 50% of people who undergo cataract surgery will eventually need a YAG laser treatment since the clouding/scarring is a part of the eye’s normal healing process. A yag laser treatment is an outpatient procedure that does not require anesthesia.

Will you perform cataract surgery on both of my eyes on the same day?

No, we schedule each eye to undergo cataract surgery on two separate surgery dates, typically two weeks apart. The reason behind this is to allow you to continue to have vision in one eye while your operative eye is healing.

Truly a quality of life altering experience! After being dependent on eye glasses and contacts from age 10 (almost 60 years), I’m literally seeing the world around me in a whole new, spectacular light.

Francis N.
- Retired cataract surgery patient (and enjoying life more than ever)
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