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June is Cataract Awareness Month

June is Cataract Awareness Month. A cataract is a cloudiness of the crystalline lens inside your eye. Cataracts are an ageing process and by age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries performed, and over 3 million are performed each year in the United States. After the cataract is removed, it is replaced with an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens or IOL. Historically, this IOL has been a monofocal lens which gives the patient clear distance vision, but with the need for reading glasses. There are also “premium” or multifocal IOLs which can now afford the patient better near and mid-range vision, thus reducing one’s dependence on reading glasses. The newest of these premium lenses is called the Tecnis Symfony® by Abbott Medical Optics.

Theses newer, more advanced multifocal IOLs are able to provide vision correction across multiple distances. This is great for people that don’t want the added hassle of wearing contacts or eye glasses. But they come with increased complaints of bothersome side effects such as loss in contrast sensitivity, halos, glare, and nighttime dysphotopsia. The Tecnis Symfony® IOL does not have some of these issues, and it also boasts improved, continuous vision adaptation. This means there is less of a drop off in vision regardless of the distance, so that the quality of vision should remain consistent over a wide range of viewing conditions.

Multifocal IOLs are considerably more expensive than traditional IOLs, and patients often must pay out of pocket for the higher performance lenses. Cataract surgery using traditional lenses is covered by Medicare or insurance and all patients pay only their deductibles, like any other procedure. The additional cost can range from $1,000 to $2,500, depending on the surgeon, location and surgical technology used. The higher cost for the newer technology IOLs is why many people still opt for the traditional technology and simply use reading glasses after the cataracts are removed. But for those who are interested in a multifocal solution after cataract surgery and the potential freedom from all glasses or contact lenses, the Tecnis Symfony® lens could indeed be a game changer. Dr. Kaminski works with local surgeons who are now using this new technology, so speak with him at your next visit.