Advanced Cataract Surgery
Advanced cataract surgery is performed to improve vision by replacing the clouded natural lens with a new clear artificial intraocular lens (IOL). The surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that involves mild sedation and numbing the eyes with topical anesthesia and pupil dilation. A microscopic incision is made on the side of the eye into which a tiny ultrasonic probe is inserted. The probe breaks up, or emulsifies, the cloudy lens into tiny pieces which are then gently removed from the eye. Once the cloudy lens has been removed, a new clear lens or IOL is implanted into the eye.
The surgery usually takes less than an hour to complete and is performed on an out-patient basis. After the procedure, a patch or clear shield may be placed over the eye and you will be asked to rest for the day. We do ask that you have someone drive you home from this comfortable out-patient surgery.
Recovery After Cataract Surgery
Patients typically have minimal discomfort although mild irritation, tearing and sensitivity to light is normal. Immediately after surgery, your vision may be blurry at first but will gradually improve within the next few days. Your doctor will prescribe eye drops to help the healing process and to reduce the risk of infection. It is important that a surgical patient not rub or apply pressure on the treated eye, but most patients can resume normal activities in a few days although heavy lifting should be avoided for approximately a week.
Several follow-up appointments will be scheduled and full healing of the eye takes about one month. Cataract surgery is performed on one eye at a time, so normal daily activities can be resumed in a few days. With conventional cataract surgery, most patients do need to update their eyeglasses, for at least some tasks, after surgery. This is typically done about 3 to 4 weeks after the procedure. If the other eye also has a cataract, the second surgery is scheduled within weeks to a month after the first eye.
Risks of Cataract Surgery
Although cataract surgery is among the most effective, safe and comfortable surgical procedures performed today, any surgery poses risks. These risks include a chance of infection, swelling, bleeding, pain or reduced vision. These risks are extremely low, however they are greater if the patient has other eye diseases or serious concurrent medical conditions. Most patients undergo this procedure pain free without any complications. Danger signs of complications after cataract surgery include: pain, redness of the eye, light flashes or floaters, diminished vision, nausea or vomiting. Of course, patients should inform their eye surgeon if any of these occur and detailed instructions regarding care of the eye and typical expectations are provided to all patients who have this procedure.
Options For Your Unique Visual Needs
There are several different IOLs available to help patients achieve the best possible results from their cataract surgery.
Traditional Monofocal IOLs
Traditional monofocal IOLs are used in most conventional insurance covered cataract surgery. Monofocal IOLs have the advantage of providing clear vision, but are limited as such vision cannot accommodate between near and distance. The patient with a monofocal IOL is often required to continue using eyeglasses or contact lenses for best vision for many daily activities such as reading. Medicare and insurance covered IOLs are all monofocal and most patients chose to set their best vision at distance allowing them, in a majority of cases, to use just reading glasses. This probability is based on the patients pre-existing spectacle correction and whether or not other conditions such as astigmatism or eye disease are concurrently present. Specialty lenses (IOLs) are available but are not an insurance covered benefit. Medicare and most insurance companies help pay a portion of updating new glasses after cataract surgery in the majority of cases depending on a patient’s insurance benefits. These new glasses are typically prescribed about 3 to 4 weeks after the procedure and our doctors will help you make that determination regarding your need for spectacles.
New Technology MultiFocal IOLs allow for good vision correction at near, intermediate, and far distances, greatly reducing the need for postoperative eyeglasses or contact lenses for most patients. Toric IOLs are also available help reduce or eliminate astigmatism which, again may greatly reduce the need for eyeglasses or contact lenses after surgery. Cataract surgery with a multi-focal or toric IOL can be offered with the laser assisted cataract surgery using the LenSx laser system. LenSx Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery is the latest technologically advanced procedure allowing your surgeon to offer a more accurate, precise and reproducible refractive cataract surgery option for your eyes and vision.
Cost and Coverage
When medically necessary, generally defined as reduced vision from cataracts interfering with performance with one or more daily activities, Cataract Surgery is usually a covered service by Medicare and most third party insurance plans. When covered is a benefit, the patient remains responsible for paying out-of-pocket for any deductible, co-payments, co-insurance or other non-covered amounts required by his or her insurance coverage. Insurance covered cataract surgery utilizes the mono-focal intraocular lens (IOL) so many patients will update their glasses for best visual results 3 to 4 weeks after the procedure.
Premium Cataract Services such as MultiFocal IOLs, Toric IOLs or LenSx Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery are generally not deemed medically necessary. Therefore, the patient is responsible for paying theses premium services out-of-pocket. Such costs are in-addition to any amounts due for traditional cataract surgery. Many patients find the long term visual and lifestyle benefits associated with these premium lens implants are well worth the additional investment. So remember to ask your doctor if you are a candidate for these vision enhancing services.