Cataracts are a common disease which thankfully has seen large jumps in care options and quality over the last couple decades. The baby boomers will reap the benefits of these advances as they age and become more likely to be diagnosed with cataracts. The disease is the number one cause of blindness in the world, with more than half of people over age 80 contracting it in the US. As a result of this high incidence, over 3.5 million surgeries are performed in the US alone annually.
Cataracts can be caused by a number of things, although age is the largest driver. Protein clumps that build up in the eye are what lead to the clouded vision, faded colors, and other visual symptoms of cataracts. Smoking and alcohol use as well as diabetes are risk factors as well.
As treatment options for cataracts have improved, namely with surgery becoming more standard and less risky, patients have begun to opt for disease earlier in life. A Mayo study shows that between 1980 to 2010, the rate of survey increased by five times and the trend seems to continue. Due to the low level of complications associated with the modern procedure, patients are not waiting to opt for it. This is in contrast to the past, when patients and doctors waited until the disease was severe.
Despite the relative safety, it should be noted that as with any surgery, some risk does remain. Inflammation of the eye, lens dislocation, or detached retinas are all possibilities. The rate of these complications is low at 1 to 4 percent, but they do happen. This is why the benefits and risks of cataract surgery still should be weighed by the doctor and patient.
The ophthalmology procedure is typically done on an outpatient basis, allowing the patient to go home the same day. During the surgery, ultrasound breaks up the lens which is removed by suction after which the surgeon can insert a new lens. Lasers similar to those used in Lasik are becoming more common to cataracts surgery as well. Most patients opt to stay awake during the surgery, with anesthetic eye drops numbing the eye. All of these features are in stark contrast to only a few decades ago when the procedure required a hospital stay and was invasive.
The cost of the surgery was estimated to be about $3,500 per eye in 2015 (for a patient without insurance coverage). Medicare and most commercial health plans tend to cover it though, so most patients will not be paying that much. Furthermore, the cost of surgery has dropped by 34 percent since 2000 and that trends continues as well. More complicated and advanced lenses may cost more but can help with other optic commodities too.
Beyond the improvement in vision, there are many downstream effects of getting cataracts surgery including reduced risk of car crashes and falls. The procedure has been a great success for millions of people, but unfortunately it is still not available everywhere. Hopefully that can change, especially for those who need it most. Visit here https://patternless.com/ to get more on Ophthalmology