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What You Need To Know About Cataracts

As you get older you may notice vision loss. One common cause is cataracts.

“The lens in the front of the eye that allows you to focus from distance to near can cloud,” says ophthalmologist Dr. Barry Wolstan. “The lens changes from clear to taking on a brownish coloration and then develops cloudy zones that degrade vision.”

Cataracts are common in Southern California because of the sun’s ultraviolet light. Heredity also plays a part. If clouding continues the lens becomes white or opaque and your vision is reduced to hand movement.

“We usually intervene earlier when you’re having problems with driving or reading,” says Dr. Wolstan. “The standard we use is the DMV standard of 20/40 vision or better that’s required to drive a car.”

Dr. Wolstan fixes cataracts in the out-patient surgery center during a 15 minute surgery performed under local anesthetic. Anesthetic eye drops are administered. You can talk to the doctor but feel no discomfort. An anesthesiologist monitors you during your procedure.

“We make a 3 millimeter incision and use an instrument to break up the cataract and then we wash away the particles,” says Dr. Wolstan. “Next we use a tiny straw to place a new acrylic lens in the eye.”

You Can Choose Between Two Types of Lenses

“For 30 years we had only a monofocal implant that focused at one point, usually at driving distance. Then you wear glasses for reading and using a computer,” says Dr. Wolstan. “Seven years ago we got the first generation of multifocal lenses that can be focused for distance and near vision. Patients with these lenses do not require glasses post operatively.”

The cost of monofocal lenses is 100% covered by Medicare but multifocal lenses are premium lenses. The cost is not fully covered and there’s an additional charge.

“There’s no wrong choice,” says Dr. Wolstan. “The basic problem is to remove the cloudiness and restore the light path, both implants do this.”

If you have astigmatism (an oval shaped eye) you may consider a monofocal lens called a toric. It’s also a premium lens and there’s an extra charge.

“Cataracts are rarely an emergency.” says Dr. Wolstan. “What’s more important is the blood vessels in the back of the eye. If these are not healthy, cataract surgery can fail to improve or normalize vision. That’s why an annual visit to an ophthalmologist is critical if you have a family history of glaucoma or macular degeneration.”

5 Warning Signs of Cataracts

  1. Blurry vision while driving
  2. Trouble focusing on a book, newspaper or screen
  3. Light sensitivity
  4. Double vision
  5. Changing eyeglasses every few months
Categories: Healthy Living

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