Cataracts and the Younger Generation

Early development of cataracts is not uncommon nowadays and can be caused by eye disease, eye injury, diabetes, steroid use, or family history. Some researchers and ophthalmologists have a new theory as to why there are more cases of early cataracts: overuse of electronic devices like smartphones, tablets and laptops. These devices emit high-energy light waves, commonly known as blue light, which may damage our vision.

One of the first symptoms of cataract development among younger patients is difficulty seeing clearly at night. Another common symptom is hazy vision that is more noticeable in bright light. Sometimes, early cataract development is difficult to diagnose because patients have no difficulty seeing clearly at night or reading an eye chart at a vision appointment. Over time, the challenges are exacerbated and patients experience significant vision loss.

The good news is that cataract surgery is safe and effective. If you have cataract-related vision loss, cataract surgery can restore your vision to what it was before. Sometimes, it can even provide you with clearer vision than you have ever experienced! In cataract surgery, your eye surgeon will remove your cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial lens called an IOL, or intraocular lens. Commonly used since the 1970s, an IOL is a clear, plastic lens that requires no care and becomes a permanent part of your eye.
One of the best benefits of an IOL is that it can reduce your dependence on glasses or contact lenses. Here is a basic overview of the three types of IOLs:

  • Monofocal lens—This lens is usually covered by Medicare and private insurance companies, but it is only designed to correct vision at one distance, either near or far, but not both. You may still need eyeglasses for reading, and in some cases, distance vision if you have astigmatism.
  • Astigmatism-correcting monofocal lens—This type of lens corrects astigmatism and cataracts in a single procedure. Post-surgery, most patients only need to use glasses for reading.
  • Multifocal lens—This lens can correct both distance vision and near vision. Some patients do not even need to wear eyeglasses after their cataract surgery. Multifocal lenses are rarely covered by insurance.

Talk to your ophthalmologist about which IOL will best correct your vision needs. The next step is to call your insurance provider to verify which lenses are covered by your insurance plan. If you are in your 40s or 50s, it may be advantageous to invest in a multifocal lens so you can enjoy many years of independence from glasses!

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