Cataract Surgery with Premium Implant Lenses
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding or discoloring of the eye’s normally clear lens. Cataracts are one of the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 60 and is a primary cause of impaired vision in the world. In fact, over 50% of all Americans have a cataract or have had cataract surgery by age 80, according to the National Eye Institute (NEI).
Cataracts are generally found in aging adults, “but there are also rare instances of cataracts forming in newborns and young children” says Christopher Gualtieri, MD, of Eye Laser and Vision Center in Hillcrest.
What are common signs and symptoms?
- Cloudy or blurry vision – You may notice your vision has blurred, like looking through a slightly frosted piece of glass.
- Glare – Natural and artificial light may appear brighter or have a halo. For instance, headlights may be more intense than before when driving at night.
- Poor night vision – As cataracts worsen, they begin to darken with a brown or yellow tint. This creates dim vision, especially at night.
- Color Fading – Colors may not appear as bright as they once did.
- Double vision – Images may have an extra outline, or “double stamped” appearance.
Who is a good candidate for cataract surgery?
Many people assume that poor eyesight is an unavoidable fact of aging, but cataract surgery is a very successful, safe, and relatively painless procedure to regain vision. In fact, it is the most commonly performed surgery in the United States, with more than 3 million Americans opting for cataract surgery each year.
“Surgery should be considered when your cataracts have progressed enough to seriously impair your vision and affect your daily life,” says Dr. Gualtieri. “Generally, most patients with cataracts are eligible for the surgery. However, those with uncontrolled diabetes in the eye, unmanaged glaucoma, advanced macular degeneration, or very high blood pressure may not be great candidates.”
How is cataract surgery performed?
During surgery, the surgeon will use a small metal straw-like vacuum tool to remove your clouded lens through a small self-sealing incision and in most cases, replace it with an implant intraocular lens (IOL).
What types of implant lenses are available?
Before the use of implant intraocular lenses (IOLs), patients had to wear very thick eyeglasses to see after cataract surgery. Today, there are a wide variety of premium IOLs to choose from, which replace the focusing power of the natural lens:
- Standard IOLs
- Traditional IOLs – have a spherical structure, which is close – but not identical – to the structure of the natural lens. Traditional IOLs are designed to provide corrected vision at a single focal point, meaning they help to correct nearsightedness OR farsightedness.
- Aspheric IOLs – match much more closely in shape to the eye’s natural lens. The benefit is that they cut out some of the potential side effects of traditional lenses, such as difficulty seeing clearly in low-light situations. Aspheric IOLs correct vision at a single focal point, meaning they help to correct for far vision or near range vision.
- Premium IOLs
- TORIC or Astigmatism IOLs – reduce or eliminate astigmatism, a unique defocus problem of the eye.
- Accommodating IOLs and Multifocal IOLs – Presbyopia-correcting IOLs which potentially enable a patient to see at ALL distances, near and far.
What should patients expect post-surgery?
Cataract surgery with an implant lens is a 30 minute outpatient surgery, performed under light sedation and a completely numb eye. Patients return home the same day. There is a common misconception that a patient must lay in bed for weeks on end following a cataract surgery. The truth is, “patients are free to go about their normal lives with minimal restrictions in a few days,” says Dr. Gualtieri.
What are the potential side effects of cataract surgery with implant lenses?
Side effects are rare, but may include:
- Swelling inside the eye
- Increase in eye pressure
- Rejection of the implant lens (very rare)
- Infection (very rare)
Are glasses needed after surgery with premium implant lenses?
“It depends” says Dr. Gualtieri. “Some premium implants (which are available for an extra charge) have the focal ability to give a patient far vision and near vision sort of all built into one. This covers a patient’s vision needs for most everyday activities.”
In many cases though, unless a patient chooses accommodating IOLs, they will still need reading glasses after cataract surgery.
How much does cataract surgery cost?
For patients paying completely out-of-pocket, one cataract surgery with the standard lens averages about $3,000, and an additional $1,500 for the upgraded implant.
However, most insurance plans cover at least a basic cataract surgical procedure. For example, says Dr. Gualtieri, “Medicare and most other plans covers the basic lens and the surgery so there’s usually no out-of-pocket cost, and then if the patient wants the premium implant, there might be an additional $1,500 out of pocket cost.”
Want more info?
For more information, or if you have questions please visit Eye Laser and Vision Center’s website.
Join our Senior Wellness Society for the latest news on Medicare and tips for healthy living in San Diego!Sign up now ›