Cataracts are a form of a progressive though painless vision loss, relatively common in the elderly, most commonly diagnosed between 65 and 74 years of age.
The severity of vision damage caused by cataracts depends on where the cataract is located. For example, a nuclear cataract blurs or blocks light from entering the eye. This may affect peripheral vision. Nuclear cataracts are typically located in the middle of the lens.
Cataracts located at the back of the eye lens are termed posterior capsular cataracts. This type of fast-developing cataract affects vision by narrowing the area where light rays focus. A cortical cataract may cause difficulty seeing or driving at night and decrease overall visual acuity.
Several different types of cataracts may afflict the elderly, including:
- Traumatic cataracts - following an eye injury
- Secondary cataracts - following eye surgical procedures, including treatments and procedures for glaucoma or as a result of steroid use
- Radiation cataracts - caused by radiation exposure
Up to 3 million Americans alone are diagnosed with cataracts every year, and nearly one of every two people over 75 years old are diagnosed with cataracts.
Advanced Treatments for Cataracts
Traditional treatment for cataracts involves contact lenses or glasses help to improve a person's vision. Medication may also dilate the pupil but only in situations where the cataract is situated in the middle of the lens. Conventional surgery involves a small incision in the eye, through which the cataract is broken up and removed through ultrasound. This procedure is called phacoemulsification or phaco for short.
The other procedure is called extracapsular surgery, done by the surgeon making an incision along the side of the cornea for the removal of the cloudy lens in one piece.
In either case, damaged lenses have been replaced with what are known as an IOL or intraocular lens. This lens becomes a permanent part of your eye. However, not everyone can be fitted with an intraocular lens, especially if they've been diagnosed with another eye disease such as glaucoma.
The Crystalens is a type of artificial or intraocular lens developed to treat both cataracts and conditions like presbyopia and glaucoma. Only 1/4-in. in length, the lens implant is capable of using your eye muscles to focus on both near and far objects and to shift back and forth.
The Crystalens has been approved by the FDA and offers a nearly 89% improvement in distance-vision than traditional IOLs. In the past few years, and just after its fifth-generation design, the Crystalens have been implanted in nearly 8 million individuals around the world.
Traveling Abroad for Cataract Surgery
In the United States, cataract surgery averages $3,000 per eye for lens implants. Other surgeon's fees may add to that cost, which may reach up to $5,000 per eye. Traveling to other countries may help save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
For example, Costa Rica Medical Tourism and Retirement Services located in San Jose offer vision correction and eye surgery options for expats, travelers and those seeing affordable yet quality medical, dental and vision care.
The TRSC International LASIK Center in Bangkok, Thailand has provided vision and eye care for international travelers for over a decade and the Ahalia Foundation Eye Hospital in Kerala, India offers cutting-edge treatments and procedures for cataracts, glaucoma and other eye and vision disorders.
For more information about international options when it comes to your eye and vision care, and the latest in technological advancements in eye surgery, visit PlacidWay.com, an international medical provider and resource for international travelers, vacationers and expats abroad.
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