By Kenneth D. Farr, M.D.
Not everyone will develop diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, macular degeneration, glaucoma or other diseases over the course of their lifetime. However, most everyone who lives long enough will develop cataracts in their eyes. Cataracts are a natural progression of aging. A cataract is not a separate growth; it is formed as protein within the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy with time. Although there can be congenital cataracts and other causes, such as trauma, the majority of cataracts are due to aging.
The only way to correct a cataract is to have it surgically removed. Once cataracts cause decreased vision that starts to interfere with normal day to day activities, most insurances and/or Medicare pay for the surgical removal of the cataracts. A person’s quality of life is greatly enhanced when their cataracts are removed.
One of the most important considerations when having cataract surgery is choosing a skilled and highly qualified ophthalmologist to perform the surgery. When an ophthalmologist removes the cataract, they also remove the eye’s lens; therefore, an artificial lens must be inserted to allow the eye to focus properly. Advanced technology gives the patient life-changing choices to correct vision with a replacement lens:
• Multifocal Lens: This lens provides freedom from glasses for a majority of normal daily activities. The goal is to allow driving, watching TV, playing tennis, golfing, swimming, working on computer and reading without glasses.
• Astigmatic or Toric Lens: Designed for patients with astigmatism, this lens provides good distance vision without glasses for active lifestyles such as golfing, playing tennis, swimming, biking, watching TV, etc. Reading glasses or “cheaters” will be needed for near vision. However, there is a Multifocal Toric lens that is in development.
• Monofocal Lens: Glasses are usually required after surgery for distance, intermediate and near vision.
There are few things that are more important than your vision. Do not make a quick decision about your lens based solely on costs. If you are a candidate for an advanced lens replacement, you are in a very fortunate position to be about to choose to see well again without glasses or contacts. Talk to your doctor about the options that are available to you.
Cataract surgery is an excellent opportunity to have the eyesight you have been missing. The lens you choose will be with you the rest of your life so select one that fits your lifestyle.
Dr. Kenneth Farr is the Medical Director of Palmetto Eye Specialists, with offices in Hilton Head Island, Bluffton, Beaufort and Ridgeland. For more information, visit www.palmettoeye.com or call our offices at 843-842-2020.