Cataract surgery becomes necessary when the eye has developed a cataract. A normal eye lens is clear, but when it becomes opaque or cloudy, it’s called a cataract. When this happens the amount of light that can reach the retina is reduced so your sight becomes blurry. Once a cataract has developed to this point it often interferes with your normal activities including driving, reading, and watching television.
“I remember after the (cataract) surgery, the vibrance of the colors. Before, everything was gray.”
Many of us take our sight for granted. And unless it happens to us, we don’t fully understand how the diminishment of this essential sense is life changing. Impaired vision is detrimental to all facets of life and increases the possibility of depression and social isolation.
Often the solution to repair sight is straight forward but too expensive. Such as in cataract surgery which has been around for a long time. In fact, the first reported surgical removal of cataract was in 1747. This means doctors have had a long time to keep improving this procedure. According to the Mayo Clinic cataract surgery complications are not common and if any should occur, they can be treated successfully. A few of the potential risks include inflammation, infection (just as in any surgery), bleeding, swelling, and drooping eyelid.
In order to minimize your risk of complications it’s important to have your eye fully evaluated to know if there are any other eye health issues that may have damaged the eye or that should be treated prior to surgery. In most cataract surgery patients, the procedure successfully restores vision and there are no complications.
If you suspect, or know you have a cataract, you are not alone. In the United States more than 25 million Americans have cataract, and that number is only going to increase. If you are wondering if cataract surgery is the right choice for you, consider the impact of diminishing sight on your life.
- Are you able to drive safely?
- Are cataracts preventing you from doing your job?
- Are daily tasks, such as cooking and shopping hard?
- What about taking medications?
- Are cataracts affecting your ability to live independently?
The Stages of Cataract Surgery
To give you an idea of the cataract surgery process let’s talk about preparing for the procedure. Because cataract surgery is most often a straightforward procedure, preparing for cataract surgery isn’t hard. You will undergo some painless eye measurement tests to help determine the right lens for you. You may need to temporarily stop some medications that might increase surgical bleeding risk. You may be prescribed antibiotic eye drops. You’ll also be given pre op instructions which explain not to eat or drink starting a certain number of hours prior to the procedure.
Even though it is likely you will be going home the same day you have your surgery, you won’t be able to drive so you’ll need to make some arrangements, so you have help.
In some cases a cataract can be removed without the need for an artificial lens. But if you will need a new lens, prior to surgery you and your doctor will have a discussion about which IOL (intraocular lens) is the best one for you. An important factor to realize is that once the lens is in place it’s a permanent part of your eye and you won’t even be aware that it’s there.
The procedure itself takes less than an hour and after your surgery your vision will begin improving within days. Any mild discomfort or itching usually goes away quickly.
The Cost of Cataract Surgery (link to page) depends on several factors including the type of lens implant (IOL) you receive as well as the technology that is utilized during your procedure. A rough estimate of the cost is between $3500 and $6000 per eye.
When Thomas Myles started losing his vision, it was pretty scary. He didn’t have insurance, and he and his wife couldn’t afford the $300-$400 per month premium. But Thomas’s job depended on his vision. He works in the printing industry as a pressman. “My job is my eyes,” he told us. “Without my eyes, I don’t have a job.” After Thomas returned home from his first (cataract) surgery, he took off the patch over his eye. “It was like someone just turned on a light,” he says. “I could see in 3D.”
Here at Lions Site and Hearing Foundation we fund critically needed treatment to help restore or prevent further loss of vision for people in our service area who lack the income and/or don’t have adequate insurance coverage to meet the cost of cataract surgery.
If you need surgery to correct a problem with your vision and you want to see if you qualify and apply with us go to How Do I Qualify.
We are always happy to answer your questions.
You can call our office at: 800-647-6638