What is a Cataract?
Your eye has a lens like a camera. Over time, the lens can become cloudy, preventing a sharp focus. The loss of transparency may be so mild that vision is barely affected, or it can be so severe that only light from dark can be detected. Eyeglasses or contact lenses can often correct the changes to vision caused by early cataracts. When the lens becomes cloudy enough to interfere with your daily activities, such as reading and driving, your surgeon will most likely recommend cataract surgery.
Causes and Symptoms
The most common cause of cataracts is aging. Other causes include trauma, medications such as steroids, systemic diseases such as diabetes, and prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light. Occasionally, babies are born with a cataract.
Cataracts typically develop slowly and progressively, causing a gradual and painless decrease in vision. Other changes you might experience include blurry vision; glare, particularly at night; frequent changes in your eyeglass prescription; a decrease in color intensity; a yellowing of images; and double vision.
Traditional Cataract Surgery
At Eye Care of Maine we are proud to provide cataract surgery in our state of the art Ambulatory Surgery Center. Here we can provide each patient with personalized care from our highly trained staff in a warm, friendly environment. During cataract surgery, your natural lens is removed and is replaced by a synthetic intraocular lens (IOL) chosen by the patient and their surgeon to provide clear vision again. Most cases take about ten minutes. For the vast majority of patients topical anesthesia and sublingual medication are used to eliminate the need for intravenous medication and needles. Our cost per case is a fraction of the cost for cataract surgery performed at a hospital, which is especially important for those patients with limited or no insurance as well as high deductibles. Cataract surgery is the most common operation in the United States and is one of the safest and most successful procedures today. As with any surgical procedure, complications can occur during or after surgery, and some are severe enough to limit vision. But in most cases, vision, as well as quality of life, improves significantly.
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Intraocular Lens Options
Eye Care of Maine offers many options to customizing your vision with cataract surgery based on your individual needs. Listed below, you will find information that will help you understand the different lens choices and surgical outcomes available:
Traditional Monofocal Lens Implant
This is the most common type of implantable lens. With this single-vision lens, you will most likely need some form of glasses after surgery, even if you do not wear glasses before surgery. Medicare and most private insurances typically will reimburse approximately 80% to 100% of your cataract surgery costs and the monofocal lens.
Astigmatism-correcting TORIC Specialty Lens Implant
The toric lens is specifically designed to treat the cataract and correct corneal astigmatism at the same time. In the past, a patient with high astigmatism, a common imperfection in the curvature of the eye’s cornea or lens, still requires glasses for near and distance vision after surgery. The toric IOL’s unique design provides quality single-vision and will significantly improve uncorrected distance vision. Most insurances including Medicare consider this an enhanced lens and do not cover the extra expense.
Multifocal Specialty Lens Implant
New technology has expanded lens choices to patients allowing them to choose to be almost completely glasses free. One of the choices is a multifocal lens implant which has several focal zones of different powers built into the lens. The part of the lens you look through will determine if you see clearly at far, near or intermediate distance. Imagine a virtually glasses-free lifestyle! Those who do need glasses only need them for very specific tasks. Typically, people who choose this implant wear or have worn multi-focal contact lenses. This lens is considered an enhanced lens and is not typically covered by insurance companies.
Light Adjustable Lens Implant (LAL)
The First and Only Lens That Can Be Customized AFTER Cataract Surgery
With traditional IOLs, your physician performs measurements before your surgery in order to select the best IOL to try to achieve your vision goals. Once your surgery is complete and the IOL has been implanted, your physician has limited options to adjust the lens power.
With the RxSight™ Light Adjustable Lens, you and Dr. Kohler can now customize your vision after your eyes have healed from cataract surgery. This is because the Light Adjustable Lens is made of a special photosensitive material that changes the shape and power of your implanted lens in response to ultraviolet (UV) light. You and Dr. Kohler will have the unique ability to adjust and preview your vision to meet your personal desires and lifestyle requirements.
In the weeks that follow, Dr. Kohler will customize your vision through a series of non-invasive light treatments that take only a few minutes each. You may need 3 to 5 total light treatments over a period of 2 to 3 weeks to reach your vision goals. During this period, you will need to wear UV-blocking glasses all waking hours to protect your eyes from UV exposure. Once your vision is adjusted, a final light treatment is used to lock in the results. No further changes can be made and 24 hours after your last light treatment you can remove the UV protective glasses.
The Light Adjustable Lens delivers superior vision outcomes that non-adjustable IOLs cannot match. This lens is considered an enhanced lens and is not covered by insurance companies.
Learn more about financing options including CareCredit.
Treating Glaucoma & Cataracts at the Same Time
If you have been managing your glaucoma symptoms with eye drops, and are preparing for cataract surgery, your surgeon may discuss placing a stent in your eye. A stent is a tiny implant that’s helped thousands of people with glaucoma successfully manage their intraocular pressure. By taking advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity during cataract surgery, you can help address both of your conditions at the same time. Implanted during cataract surgery, a stent can effectively lower IOP, one of the most important risk factors for glaucoma, and may reduce your reliance on glaucoma medication at the discretion of an eye care professional.