There is no stopping the clock. We will all age both physically and mentally. Some of us will exercise and stay fit, eat healthy and keep ourselves sharp by reading and engaging in conversation with others. No matter how well we take care of ourselves, though, certain changes will occur as our bodies grow older. Our muscles and bones will lose some of their youthful vigor and strength, and our vision will be affected as well. Just like death and taxes, getting a cataract ranks right up there as being inevitable, but no longer do today’s seniors need to be limited. The good news is there are solutions for cataracts.
As we have already mentioned, cataracts develop as we age. The lens inside our eyes becomes less flexible and eventually clouds and yellows. Our vision is severely limited as the cataract continues to develop. Just as our ability to see close up objects is affected in our 40s and 50s known as presbyopia, so our vision is doubly affected by cataracts in our 60s 70s and 80s.
This cloudy lens makes clearly seeing everyday objects more difficult. Driving becomes problematic and performing normal chores and activities can be severely affected. According to the National Eye Institute (NEI) by age 80 over half of the population in the US has a cataract right now or has already had cataract surgery.
Early symptoms of a cataract include:
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty driving at night
- Frequent changes in prescription
- Colors seem faded or not as sharp
- Glare from oncoming headlights is bothersome or suddenly thinking the sun is too bright
The only way to determine if you or someone you know may have a cataract is to undergo a comprehensive eye exam.
Simple Solution for Cataracts
Once your doctor diagnoses a cataract, the simple solution or treatment for cataracts is the removal of the old cloudy lens. He will replace it with a new clear lens known as an intraocular lens or an IOL. Cataract surgery is one of the most performed surgeries in the world.
Standard cataract surgery or basic cataract surgery is safe, painless and will restore your lost vision. It is performed on an outpatient basis without anesthesia and takes only about 15 minutes.
Once the cloudy lens is replaced with a clear new lens, light can once again reach the retina for clear and improved vision. With standard cataract surgery you may still need glasses for reading and/or driving depending on your visual issues.
More Advanced Solutions for Cataracts
Over the past decade, new lens technologies have become much more advanced and OptiVision offers a variety of lens implants to best suit your lifestyle. These lens options can give you additional benefits, but also more choices that need to be made in determining your lens implant type. Because of these multiple options, lens selection can be a frustrating process. The problem with intraocular lenses inserted with cataract surgery is that there is no way to try them before surgery to see which one you like the best.
There are three important things to consider when choosing the artificial lens to be used in your cataract surgery: the type of lens and the power of the lens. Choosing a cataract lens depends on many personal factors, including:
- What activities do you do during the day and which ones would you like to do without glasses if possible?
- Are you able to pay the up-charge for a lens that does more than the standard lens covered by your insurance company?
- At what distances would you like to see most clearly without glasses – near (reading), intermediate (computer screen), or far (driving)
Standard Monofocal Lens– This high quality clear lens delivers good vision at only one distance. The focal point for maximum clarity can be set to one of these:
Distance – Driving, golfing & watching TV
Intermediate – Grocery store shelves, computer & car dashboard
Near – Reading, Knitting & Hobbies
There is no extra out-of-pocket cost for a monofocal lens but you will need to wear reading glasses after the procedure.
Multifocal Lens– Designed to reduce your need for eyeglasses for both distance and near vision, this lens gives you clear vision at several distances. There is an up-charge for this specialty lens.
Are you a good candidate for a Multifocal Lens? With a standard monofocal lens implant, the vision will be very clear in the distance but very blurry up close (for reading) without glasses. Some patients have even complained that they could not see their food at the dinner table without using reading glasses. Multifocal lenses were developed to allow patients to see well at several distances WITHOUT GLASSES after cataract surgery. Multifocal lenses offer benefits above and beyond those of standard lenses. They are not covered by insurance and require an additional out-of-pocket expense. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the following considerations when determining whether a multifocal lens is right for you.
- Eye diseases, such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, or macular degeneration, can negatively affect the health of the eyes and the quality of the vision. These diseases, even in early stages, could cause problems with premium lenses. A multifocal lens is not recommended if you have one of these eye diseases.
- Motivation to not wear glasses should also be determined when selecting a multifocal lens. These lenses are designed for patients who are motivated to not have to wear glasses after their cataract surgery. Some patients are accustomed to wearing glasses and do not mind using them after surgery. The additional cost of a multifocal lens would not be a reasonable investment for these patients. For other patients, eliminating the need for glasses is a strong desire. Paying the additional out-of-pocket cost for a special lens would make much more sense for these patients, as these lenses would.
- Monovision – this implant technique uses a monofocal lens with a different power in each eye so that you don’t have to use glasses for most of your daily activities. Your dominant eye is generally set for distance, and the other eye is set for near. Many people successfully use monovision with contact lenses. Successful monovision requires cataract surgery to each eye.
In summary, ideal candidates for multifocal lenses are patients with healthy eyes, the motivation to be less dependent on eyeglasses or contact lenses, and willingness to adapt to minor visual effects from the lens. Patients selecting a multifocal lens can reasonably expect to have good vision for reading and driving. Because no current technology is perfect there may still be circumstances where glasses are required to achieve comfortable vision.