Cataract Surgery Cost: What You Need to Know

Cataract surgery is one of the most common solutions for cataracts. Cataracts are one of the natural effects of aging. They cause blurry vision that could be severe enough to interfere with daily living and pose safety risks for the person suffering from them.

Suffering with Cataracts?

If you have cataracts, you may feel helpless as you notice that your vision is no longer as clear, sharp and as vibrant as before. You may also feel uncertain about moving around, knowing that you can never fully rely on your vision to guide you safely as you move.

Fortunately, you do not have to put up with hazy vision as you reach your golden years. Clearer vision, improved quality of life and increased personal safety from falls and slips are just some of the benefits of getting this surgery. People who have had this surgery to correct vision now enjoy improved independence, greater self-confidence, better mental health, and a renewed enjoyment of social activities and hobbies.

Read on to learn more about cataracts and how cataract surgery can change your vision and your life today.

What is Cataract Surgery?

Cataract Surgery is a medical procedure to remove the lens in the eye and replace it with an artificial one called an Intraocular Lens. This is done because the natural lens tends to grow cloudy and opaque with age, which results to reduced and blurry vision. This outpatient procedure is often enough to restore clear vision and takes an average of 30 to 45 minutes.

Cataract surgery can be done in three ways:

Phacoemulsification

This process involves breaking the cataract into small pieces using sound waves. The pieces are removed using a vacuum inserted through a small incision. The replacement artificial lens is then inserted through the incision.

Extracapsular Cataract Surgery

This surgery is done on severe cataracts that can no longer be broken down. The doctor may use local anesthesia and oral sedatives to relax the patient as he removes the defective lens through an incision in the eye.

Intracapsular Cataract Surgery

This type of surgery requires a larger incision than other procedures and is often suited for cases with extreme trauma. The incision should be large enough to remove an intact lens. The replacement lens is then inserted through this same incision.

Most cataract surgeries are done with small incisions. This is because small incision surgery has the following advantages:

–faster recovery

–faster resumption of normal activities

–normal vision after a few days

–outpatient procedure and low cost

–reduced chance of surgically-induced astigmatism

–eliminates risk for ruptured sutures

When to Have Cataract Surgery

A cataract does not necessarily have to be removed. There are cataracts that do not cause blurred vision and interfere with daily life. However, if the patient has blurred vision to the point that he or she can no longer read print or signs, sees glare when driving, or has difficulty engaging in tasks that require focused and near vision, then it is time to consider having the cataract removed.

The appearance of the symptoms is often a good indicator that it might be time to have the surgery done. Symptoms of cataracts include:

–clouded, blurry vision

–increasing difficulty with vision in the dark

–sensitivity to light, glare

-seeing halos around lights

–fading colours

–double vision in one eye

–need for brighter lighting

–frequent changes in contact lens or glass prescriptions

After your evaluation, your doctor can tell confirm whether you need to have the surgery done or not.

If both eyes have cataracts, surgeries are performed weeks apart from each other to allow the first one to heal. Having the surgeries done simultaneously is not recommended because there is the possibility of complications affecting both eyes at the same time.

Surgery Preparation

An ophthalmologist first determines if your condition requires surgery by doing a comprehensive evaluation of your eyes and overall physical health to determine if you are a good candidate for the job. While cataract surgery is a fairly straightforward procedure, there are risk factors that could make a person a poor candidate for the surgery such as advanced age, an underlying medical condition and conditions that prohibit certain medications. For example, a cataract patient who also has macular degeneration and taking the drug Avastin may have a higher risk of bleeding than a normal person. This may mean that the doctor may need to take additional precautions to prevent this complication from occurring during surgery.

Once the ophthalmologist determines that you are a good candidate, he or she will take refraction measurements to determine the amount of nearsightedness and farsightedness that you have prior to having the surgery. He or she will also take measurements of the curvature of your cornea and the length of the eye. These measurements are necessary for the surgeon to determine the power  of the intraocular lens.

Your doctor or surgeon will also explain to you what you can expect from the surgery, how long it will take and the risks involved to help you make an informed decision. During this time you can ask questions to clarify any information about the surgery.

Options for Lens Implants

Intraocular lens implants are the medical devices implanted inside the eye to replace the natural lens during cataract surgery. These lens have been around with FDA approval since the 1980s. Prior to the approval of these lenses, patients who had cataract surgery had to wear very thick glasses to enjoy clear vision since at that time, there was no implants available to replace the focusing  power of the human lens.

Today, there are different types of intraocular lenses (IOLs) to choose from and the best type often depends on the user’s lifestyle and unique visual needs. There is the basic single vision IOL covered by NHS, HSC, and other types of health insurance. This type of lens only has one focusing distance, so you can choose to set the lens to focus for up close, medium or distance vision. The most common option is the monofocal lenses set for distance vision. Patients using this lens compensate by wearing glasses for close-up work.

You can also choose among premium IOLs which have advanced features for specific vision needs.

Aspheric IOLs are designed to match the shape and optical quality of natural human lenses which diminish optical aberrations and provide clearer and sharper vision. These lenses also perform very well in low light conditions and are suited for people with large pupils.

Accommodating lenses are designed to provide single vision at one focal point. These lenses may require the use of reading glasses or contact lenses to perform specific tasks at hands length. They have an aspheric design and flexible supports that prop up the lens inside the eye. The flexibility allows the lens to move forward if you are looking at near objects, allowing you to focus sharply on the object. However, these lenses are implanted mostly to increase the sharpness of distance vision similar to the quality offered by a monofocal lens.

Multifocal IOLs are designed to decrease presbyopia to eliminate or reduce the need for reading or computer glasses after cataract surgery. The lenses are designed with different magnification  measurements on different parts of the lenses and the surgeon aligns the cornea with the correct measurement on the lens to give you sharper and clearer vision for seeing objects clearly at all distances without the need for glasses. One downside to this type of lens is that it tends to cause a mild glare or blurred distance vision.

Toric IOLs are used to correct astigmatism, nearsightedness and farsightedness. These lenses decrease the need for LASIK surgery to correct residual astigmatism. They have different powers in different meridians of the lens which allows your surgeon to adjust the orientation of the lens inside the eye to correct the condition.

Choosing Different IOLs for Each Eye

Your ophthalmologist or surgeon may give you the option to choose two different lenses for each eye to get the best outcome. This is because there may be different measurements for astigmatism, nearsightedness or farsightedness in each eye so you want lenses that are designed to meet the specific requirements for each. For example, your surgeon may recommend that you use an accommodating IOL in one eye and a toric in the other eye.

Traditional vs. Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery?

Some clinics offer both traditional and laser-assisted cataract surgery. Traditional surgery is the most common and is often the type covered by health insurance. It is safe, effective and often more affordable.

Laser cataract surgery uses an ultrasound imaging device to map the surface of the eye to gather information about the lens which are then used by a computer to determine the exact measurement and  location of incisions that need to be done. The surgeon makes these incisions using a laser. An ultrasound is then inserted to break up the cataract and these are suctioned out before the lens implant is placed inside. This method is more precise and offers sharper, clearer vision. It also takes a shorter amount of time.

Not everyone on NHS can get laser-assisted cataract surgery under this insurance. Only those with astigmatism diagnosed during the cataract consultation and would like to have this fixed during the surgery can  avail of this option. In this case, laser is used to reshape the cornea to treat the astigmatism.

Laser surgery is also the preferred option for those who want premium lens implants because this allows for better positioning of the lens.

Recovery for both types of surgeries is the same, however. Whether you choose one or the other, you can also expect to see clearly a week or two after the procedure. Full recovery can take up to three months.

What Happens During Surgery?

Surgery takes 30 to 45 minutes and is done using local anesthetic which means that you will be awake during the entire procedure. The surgeon makes a small incision near the edge of the cornea using a scalpel blade or lasers and a few more incision to reach the lens in the eye. He or she then inserts a tube that emits sound waves to break up the cloudy portion of the lens into small pieces. These pieces are then suctioned out. The new lens is inserted. The side walls of the cornea are then filled with a special kind of sealing liquid. Your doctor will use self sealing closures that allow the incisions to heal  over time. A shield will be placed over the affected eye after surgery to protect the eye and promote recovery.

What to Expect After Surgery

Your doctor will prescribe eye drops to prevent dryness and irritation as your eye heals. He or she will also advise you on the kind of activity you can engage in and what to avoid to promote healing. It is important to avoid getting soap or water in eye. Your doctor may also require you to use an eye shield to protect your eye during the healing period.

It is not unusual to suffer from blurry vision weeks and even months after the procedure. However, prolonged  blurry vision needs to be seen by a doctor because you may need to undergo a laser procedure to correct this problem. This may occur months or years after the surgery and is called posterior capsular  ossification. Vision may become cloudy again, giving the sensation that the cataract is returning. In cases like these, a laser is used to create a hole in the lens capsule. This usually restores vision immediately.

Medications

There are various medications used in cataract surgery, such as antibiotics to prevent infections and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation and prevent the buildup of pressure in the eye. Avastin is another medication that is often used by those suffering from cataracts and macular degeneration. The drug is injected into the vitreous substance of the eye. Injections are given as needed, although in most patients they are given every four to six weeks. Avastin is given to prevent loss of vision. However, it is not usually effective for restoring vision already lost due to macular degeneration.

Risks of Cataract Surgery

Like any kind of invasive procedure, cataract surgery comes with certain risks. These include

–eye infection

–bleeding

–prolonged swelling of the front or inside of the eye

–swelling of the retina

–detached retina

–prolonged pain

–vision loss

–dislocation of lens implant

–delayed healing

–adverse reactions to the local anesthesia

Cataract Surgery Cost

The average price range for cataract surgery for private patients not covered by NHS in the UK is £1,800 and £3,000 which includes doctor’s fees and hospital charges.

This type of surgery is typically covered by NHS, HSC, and other health insurance, but coverage could depend on levels of acuity or clarity. You can also expect additional costs if you choose premium lens implants or if your vision has severely deteriorated prior to the procedure, or if you choose laser-assisted surgery. It is very important to read the terms of your insurance policy to determine which areas are covered by insurance and which are not. Also consider financing options with your clinic. Centers like the Sight Clinic offers payment plans that make payment for this surgery easy and convenient for patients.

Cataract Surgery: Does it worsen macular degeneration?

There has been some speculation that the inflammation that could result after cataract surgery could worsen existing eye conditions like macular degeneration, specifically wet macular degeneration, a condition where abnormal blood vessels growing in the back portion of the eye start leaking fluid or blood, causing blurry vision which can be quick and severe. People with this condition may find it hard to recognise faces, drive, read perform certain daily tasks and even experience visual hallucinations.

This condition is divided into early, intermediate and late types. The late type is divided into dry and wet macular degeneration. The former is often more common than the latter. Unlike  cataracts, once vision has been lost due to macular degeneration, there is no procedure that can restore  sight to normal. This is the reason why prevention through nutrition, exercise, medication, and supplementation to slow progression are extremely important. Timely surgery is also crucial to prevent further deterioration and restore clear vision.

Medical centers like the Sight Clinic offer cutting edge surgical services suffering from cataracts handled by competent eye specialists with a wide range of experiences dealing with cataracts and other ophthalmic disorders. To know more about this condition and what your options are, give them a call today to set an appointment.