More than half of all Americans develop cataracts by age 80 and early symptoms include blurred vision, glare, and difficulty reading. As a person ages, the natural lens can start to become blurry and cloudy, preventing light from passing through, or altering the rays so that vision is unclear and obscured. A “cataract” is the term for this hazy lens. You may choose not to do anything about them, but when they start to interfere with daily activities, they can be treated surgically. Cataract surgery is one of the safest, and most frequently performed, surgeries in the United States, with more than 1.6 million surgeries performed each year. Here is the straight scoop, if you are facing cataract surgery as a retiring senior:
- Cataracts are not a growth or film over the eye. Cataracts cloud the eye’s clear lens, similar to a window that is “fogged” with steam. When the lens becomes cloudy, light rays cannot pass through it easily and vision becomes blurry. As the cataract becomes denser, so does the impact on vision.
- Cataracts are actually related to overall health. In fact, cataracts are a known side effect of diabetes and high blood pressure and are associated with the use of steroid medications.
- Most people cannot tell when the need surgery and most people say that cataracts don’t interfere with their day-to-day activities.
- Cataract surgery isn’t painful. It can be uncomfortable, but shouldn’t hurt. After you are sedated, your eye will be numbed, a small incision will be made so that the cataract can be broken up with ultrasound and then replace the lens with a synthetic one.
- After surgery, you may not need “readers” after cataract surgery. Multifocal and “monovision” replacement lenses correct vision at various points (near and far), and can sometimes reduce the need for glasses (NOTE: Medicare considers these focusing lens an upgrade, so expect to pay for these “specialty” lenses). Occasionally, laser treatment is used (after cataract surgery) to remove a film that can occasionally grow behind the lens implant.
Symptoms: painless blurring of vision; sensitivity to light and glare; double vision in one eye; poor night vision; fading or yellowing of colors; or frequent changes in glasses or contact lens prescriptions. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see your doctor for a baseline checkup.
In closing, don’t put off the surgery, if your doctor prescribes it. The more cataracts progress, the harder they get and the harder to break up and replace and eventually they will progress to the point that you cannot see. The good news is that when speaking to patients after surgery, 62% enjoy life more, 80% found it easier to drive (daytime and nighttime), and 80% said that the surgery is easier than expected. I, too, have cataracts, and my ophthalmologist will eventually recommend the surgery. When I finally do; I wonder how long it will take me to stop my habit of pushing my non-existent glasses up the bridge of my nose!
Would you pay for the upgraded lens or stick with wearing glasses?
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Licensed in Virginia with Liz Moore and Associates, 5350 Discovery Park Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23188
Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. Check out www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.