As we advance in years, one of the biggest threats to our vision is cataracts. Unlike macular degeneration and glaucoma, cataract-related vision loss is reversible with surgery. Technology has advanced substantially in the past decades, and cataract surgery is now a 15-20 minute outpatient procedure.
Cataract surgery is now the most common surgery performed in the United States, with about 3.6 million procedures performed annually. Cataract patients have many options when it comes to intraocular lenses (IOLs), but cataract surgery should not be confused with LASIK. Replacing the lens in your eye will not correct all focusing problems. Many patients still need glasses or contacts to correct their vision. Most cataract patients suffer from both ametropia (nearsightedness or farsightedness when dealing with distance vision) and presbyopia (inability to see objects up close), so here are some of the most common solutions:
- Bifocal glasses: Many people choose a monofocal IOL because it is covered by most private insurance and Medicare. A monofocal IOL corrects either near vision, distance vision or intermediate vision but not all three at the same time. Most people choose to have distance vision corrected with the IOL, so bifocals can correct near and intermediate vision. Some bifocal prescriptions can be ordered as “progressives” which eliminates the line between the top and bottom of the lens.
- Contact lenses: Technology for contact lenses have come a long way, giving aging eyes more options than ever. Today, there are bifocal contacts (hard or soft) that correct near and distance vision. If that doesn’t suit you, ask your doctor about monovision contacts. You can be fitted for a distance lens in your dominant eye and a reader lens in your non-dominant eye. Both options require some time for your eyes to adjust, so be patient.
- Monovision surgery: While you are having cataract surgery, your surgeon can correct the vision differently in the two eyes. Many people are now choosing to have their distance vision corrected in their dominant eye and near vision corrected in the other eye (Source: The Leaf-Chronicle).
Talk to your eye doctor about the best option to correct your vision after cataract surgery. If you’re already going under the knife, think carefully about any other procedures that you may want to have. It only makes sense to group them together.