When it Comes to Eyes, Don’t Compromise — Customize!
Apr 27, 2016 02:00PM ● Published by Cate Reynolds
There are many things that come with getting older that we come to accept, but impaired eyesight from cataracts hasn’t had to be one of them for many, many years.
In fact, cataract surgery is among the oldest, most common, and most successful procedures performed worldwide. It is the principal refractive surgical procedure performed on older adults. So while time can be tough on our eyes as we grow older, as time has progressed, medical science has only gotten better at treating them.
A cataract occurs when our eye’s natural lens, located behind our iris, or colored part of our eye, becomes clouded. The primary contributing factor is age, but other contributing factors include increased exposure to sunlight, diabetes, smoking, and a family history of the condition. Eye traumas and certain medications can also increase your chances of developing cataracts. Clouded lenses can cause people to experience blurred vision, compromised night vision, double vision, and muted colors.
Amazing LasersWhat has happened in this field since the introduction of laser technology is nothing short of astounding. Long gone are the “Coke bottle” eyeglasses that needed to be worn after manual techniques that just removed the offending lens via actual surgical incision.
The advent of laser technology to remove the clouded lens and the development of synthetic intraocular lenses, or IOLs, was a two-fold game changer that made clearer vision possible with a less invasive procedure to boot! Incision sizes are currently at a mere two millimeters and industry experts are working on getting that down to one millimeter.
“Bladeless laser [surgery] provides image-guided control for increased accuracy and predictability,” explains Dr. Maria Scott, Medical Director and Cataract Surgeon for Chesapeake Eye Care and Laser Center of Annapolis.
“Additionally, the laser enables surgeons to precisely program the size, shape, and location of the incision and lens capsule for each patient. The laser also softens the lens to reduce the amount of energy and fluid needed to remove the cataract, resulting in faster recovery time.”
Further advancements in the area of customizable lenses that address other vision concerns, as well, has patients and physicians alike excited about the future.
The Latest NewsSome of that excitement is associated with an advanced technological capability known as ORA Precision Vision. Here’s where customization is truly making its mark. With this technology cataract surgeons are able to get the most accurate measurements resulting in more precise lens power and optimal placement of the most suitable intraocular lens. Now there is a menu of premium lenses to choose from and each performs differently:
- The Standard, Single-Focus Lens: This was the only lens available at one time. Patients still need glasses after this procedure.
- The Multifocal Lens: Improved near and distance vision
- The Accomodative Lens: Improved intermediate and distance vision
- The Toric Lens: Clear distance vision with less dependence on prescription glasses for patients with moderate to high astigmatism
Time & MoneyDr. Scott explains that most insurance plans, including Medicare, pay for the costs of cataract surgery; however, insurers may only cover what is deemed to be medically necessary. Getting a monofocal (single-focus) intraocular lens is considered basic care and would be covered under most plans. A presbyopia-correcting intraocular lens, which may reduce or remove the need for reading glasses, might be seen as elective and beyond the basic coverage.
“Be sure to understand exactly what your insurance plan will cover as you weigh your cataract care options,” Dr. Scott says.
In most cases, cataract surgery is performed in less than 15 to 30 minutes and patients can expect to leave the procedure wearing a temporary pair of dark glasses.
“Within 48 hours, patients return to most routine activities with minimal restrictions. It is an exciting time for cataract patients who want to improve their full range of vision, regain their quality of life and minimize or eliminate their dependence on glasses. I am grateful that I can make a dramatic change in my patients’ lives,” Dr. Scott adds.
So does all this focus on the quality of your visual life mean that ditching your reading glasses forever will be the next step in cutting-edge ophthalmology? Perhaps for the foreseeable future, no, but we truly shall see.
What If I Have Had LASIK?Patients who have had previous LASIK or other laser vision correction procedures may still be good candidates for cataract surgery. To experience the best outcome, LASIK patients need to provide their doctor with the last vision prescription information they had prior to LASIK surgery. This is what helps best pinpoint what power the replacement lens should be. Having had previous refractive surgery can be more complicated if your doctor does not have a clear picture on the condition of your eyes prior to your LASIK procedure.
Avoidable or Inevitable?Cataracts are not a given for all people as they age. Here are some things you can do to lessen your chance at acquiring them.
- Shield your eyes. UV exposure is one of the biggest risk factors for cataracts. Studies show that damage can be cumulative, starting as early as childhood. Fortunately, wearing sunglasses every time you go outside, even on cloudy days, provides excellent protection.
- Don’t smoke. Smokers have a three-time greater chance at developing cataracts compared to nonsmokers.
- Ask your doctor if any medications you are taking contribute to cataracts. Some meds like corticosteroids and statin drugs can contribute to cataract formation.