elderly man getting eye exam for cataracts

What to Expect: Seeing Your Way Through Cataracts Surgery

No one ever claimed that getting older would be fun. And while the many technological advancements in medicine can’t solve everything related to aging, it can help restore vision loss due to cataracts.

What are Cataracts?

According to All About Vision, “A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye, causing vision loss that cannot be corrected with glasses, contact lenses or corneal refractive surgery like LASIK.” While this may sound serious, cataracts are considered common. By the age of 60, more than half of American seniors will be diagnosed with one.

As our eyes age, our lenses become thicker and increasingly opaque. In some cases, the lens may begin to break down, causing a cloudiness and eventually forming into a cataract. While there are other risk factors that can increase your chances of developing cataracts, the development is most often attributed to age.

In 2015, it was estimated that more than 3.6 million cataract surgeries would be performed in the U.S., and more than 20 million worldwide. Because the development of cataracts has become so common, cataracts surgery has become accepted as a fairly normal part of aging.

What to Expect

If you have cataracts, chances are you and your eye doctor have already been aware of it for some time. Cataracts need to progress to a certain point before they become medically necessary to remove. Once this happens, you and your doctor will schedule a date for a pre-op appointment and surgery.

While the surgery only typically takes approximately ten minutes to perform, the in-office recovery time can take anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour before you can be driven home. Your eye doctor will often send you home with an eye patch, some medicated drops, and a list of activities to avoid until you recover.

Some of these activities may include:

  • Strenuous activity (exercise, lifting anything over 25 lbs)
  • Bending down
  • Getting water in your eyes
  • Exposing your eye to dust or contaminants

Strict adherence to your doctor’s after-care instructions is essential to a full recovery.

Unforeseen Costs

If your doctor considers the surgery medically necessary, Medicare will typically cover most of the cost of the surgery, the pre-surgical exam, and any follow-up care you may require. But Medicare enrollees will still be responsible for meeting their deductible and paying a coinsurance of 20 percent out of pocket. For many seniors living on a fixed income, paying for what Medicare doesn’t can be difficult.

Fortunately, there is Medicare supplement insurance. If you or someone you love is approaching the age of 65, a Medicare supplemental insurance policy (otherwise known as a Medigap policy) can help fill in the financial gaps.

young woman wearing glasses and smiling

6 Best Online Stores to Purchase Eyeglasses From

With a variety of lens materials, types, and coatings available to choose from – sitting in your optometrist’s office listening to the tech rattle off your options can understandably feel overwhelming. For the most part, consumers want something to get the job done at the lowest possible price unless they have other very specific concerns.

However, depending on your location, prescription strength and needs, as well as your eye doctor, you could be spending anywhere from approximately $95 to over $1,000 for a pair of prescription eyeglasses. According to health.costhelper.com , consumers spend on average approximately $196 for a pair of eyeglasses, and until fairly recently they didn’t have much of a choice.

However, over the course of the past 10 to 15 years, a new kind of eyeglass business has hit the market, cutting out the middleman, and cutting the ultimate cost for consumers. Zenni Optical, for example, will sell the complete set of fashionable eyeglasses (frame and lenses) for as low as $12, and their competitors aren’t too far behind.

Just in the past five years, a number of these online eyeglass retailers have been the talk of the fiscally conscious eyeglass consumer community since their inception.

But with all of these new online retailers on the market, which ones are the best to purchase eyeglasses from?

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People sitting on a bench looking at mobile devices

Myopia and Millennials: The Trend No One Saw Coming

According to a Nielson Company audience report, it is estimated that the average American spends over 10 hours behind a screen consuming digital media and content. But is this much screen time actually helping us or hurting us?

As it happens, a number of studies have recently come out against the rapid increase in screen time for everyone from toddlers to senior citizens. In fact, some of these studies have shown a correlation between increased screen time and the following:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Cynicism
  • Shortened Attention Span
  • Decreased Social Skills
  • Isolation
  • Changes In Sleep Patterns

These are just a few of the negative effects linked to the world’s growing dependency on media whether it comes from your television, computer, or myriad of smart devices.

But beyond the studied and documented negative mental and social effects, could our digital habits also be related to our actual physical health?

Millennials, Media, and Myopia

Based on the Nielsen Q1 2016 Total Audience Report, it is estimated that while U.S. adults spend an average of 10 hours and 39 minutes each day consuming media, for the Millennial generation, that number can be as high as 18 hours a day.

Interestingly enough, as the hours spent consuming digital media continues to increase, so do the recorded cases of myopia, more commonly referred to as shortsightedness, which is where a person is able to see things close up but has difficulty when trying to view things from a distance.

Myopia is commonly attributed to what happens when the eye grows too long horizontally, causing the lens of the eye to focus what the individual is trying to view in front of the retina versus on the retina. Myopia can also be the result of an overly curved cornea or an overly thick lens.

The Epidemic No One Saw Coming

However, over the course of the past decade Ophthalmologists are now beginning to credit our various media devices with a third cause of myopia.

In an interview with WIRED correspondent Duncan Nicholls, ophthalmologist Andrew Bastawrous was quoted as saying “There’s definitely a myopia epidemic. Many more people are becoming shortsighted than they were a decade ago. The implications of this are not just that there are more people needing glasses, but that their condition is pathological. Their myopia is due to the eyeball growing, particularly in populations of Asian descent, at a rate that is causing even potential severe visual impairment, through glaucoma retinal detachment and other retinal problems.”

Bastawrous goes on to say use the country of Singapore as an example by asserting that “more than 90 percent of school children are leaving school myopic.”

In fact, it has been estimated that here in the United States myopia rates have doubled over the last generation. Leading countless Millennials to invest in preserving their eye health.

And what are Ophthalmologists claiming is a key factor in this uptick in shortsightedness? The numerous digital screens we place in front of us every day.

One theory is that as we spend increasing amounts of time in front of our televisions, computers, and smart devices, our eyes are gradually becoming more and more accustomed to only needing to see a few feet in front of us instead of long distances. A second theory is that our eyes are not receiving enough natural sunlight because we are spending more time indoors— a theory that yet again, may have significant ties to increases in screen time.

Protecting Your Eye Health

Do you find yourself needing to squint to try to see distant objects, do you often experience headaches, blink or rub your eyes frequently?

If so, it may be time to visit your eye doctor.

When was the last time you visited an optometrist? For those without perfect vision, it is recommended that one visit the eye doctor once every twelve months to look for any adjustments that may be needed in your eye prescription.

young african american woman on the couch wearing blue blocking eye glasses looking at her laptop

Blue Blocker Lenses: Are They Worth The Hype?

As our bodies continue to age, it is understandable that we begin to experience more changes. And whether we like it or not, doctors and other medical specialists are here to help us make sure that our bodies are operating at the very best levels that they can and when they are not, doctors are the people we visit to find out why.

For example, declining eyesight is one of the most common and most easily diagnosable issues our bodies may encounter throughout our lives. Worsening eyesight is often associated with getting older and while there are a variety of reasons and levels of severity, ultimately poor eyesight is typically very treatable except in certain circumstances.

As a general rule of thumb, it is suggested that you should visit the eye doctor once every one to two years. Even if you don’t feel your eyesight has changed, an optometrist will be able to know for sure and make any adjustments to your eye prescription as necessary.

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