There are few issues with our health that are almost universal throughout the population, but two of these occur with our eyes and vision. One is presbyopia, where the lenses in our eyes become less flexible after the age of 40, making it harder and harder to focus on up-close vision such as reading. Presbyopia is behind the plethora of reader eyeglasses you’ll see spread throughout the house of an older person.
The second near universal condition with our eyes is the development of cataracts. Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over 40 and the principal cause of blindness worldwide. There are more cases of cataracts than of glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy combined. In the U.S. alone, 30 million people over the age of 40 will have cataracts by the year 2020.
At Wilkinson Eye Center, we have extensive experience with the microsurgery used to remove the cataract-clouded natural lens and replace it with an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens (IOL). It will be up to you to decide which of the available lens choices is right for you.
What is a cataract?
The lens in your eye is a transparent film that focuses images seen by the eye on the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye. As we age, proteins build up in the lens, making the lens cloudy and impairing your vision.
Cataracts develop very slowly, and the patient usually doesn’t know his or her vision is becoming cloudier. But at some point, it will become obvious that the vision has become impaired, particularly at night. Cataracts can develop in one or both eyes, but they don’t usually progress at the same rate. The only way to treat a cataract is to remove the now-permanently cloudy lens and replace it with an IOL. It’s estimated that in the U.S. by the time a person turns 80 they have a 50 percent chance of either needing or already having undergone cataract surgery.
Intraocular Lens Options
Up until just before the turn of the new century, there was really only a single choice for cataract replacement IOLs, single vision. This meant the patient had to decide whether his or her IOL would be for distance vision or for up-close vision. They would wear glasses to correct for the other vision range. Single vision IOLs are still available, and they are the option fully covered by Medicare.
But various multifocal IOLs have been developed, with more options becoming available all the time. These new technologically advanced intraocular lenses enable the patient to see clearly at all distances. These are called “premium IOLs.”
In June’s second blog, we’ll describe the premium IOLs we offer at Wilkinson Eye Center. Until then, if your vision is increasingly cloudy, maybe it’s time to set up a consultation for cataract surgery. Call us at (248) 334-4931 to schedule a consultation.