Adults of Every Age Should Know Why Cataracts Probably Will Be In Our Future Not Only Because We Are Living Longer And There is a Very Expensive Silver Lining If We Can Afford It

cataractThis Grandma recently watched Grandpa go through cataract surgery and saw how truly effortless it was, other than having to do one eye at a time for safety, and going through the experience twice.  As with so many things, I deny and avoid anything that points to our long (we never say old) age.  I never intended to write about the experience, but for a New York Times article, May 9, 2017, speaking to the “Building Blocks of Cataracts” by C. Claiborne Ray, and the realization that adults of every age should know why cataracts probably will be in our future not only because we are living longer and there is a very expensive silver lining if we can afford it.

At age 27, when I moved to Florida, I was told to be sure to make wearing sunglasses part of my daily routine whenever I was outside due to the high ultraviolet rays of our joyful sunlit climate.  I was told that if I did not, cataracts were in my future.  I started to wear sunglasses whenever I went outside and still do.  It was a little thing that could prevent something whose name I did not like, but really knew nothing about.

After reading this New York Times article, I found out that cataracts “are made of the same soluble proteins and water that are found in the normal lenses of the eyes, but arranged differently so that they interfere with the path of light, clouding vision and scattering light.”  Ultraviolent A and B radiation play a part in the process.  The article cited “a 2014 study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry [that] outlined the chemical changes suspected to take place upon prolonged exposure to such rays.”  I then went to WebMD, a favorite source of information, and found the complete list of causes of cataract formation.

At age 27, I did not face nor think about that cataracts were probably in my future anyway.  I saw the number one cause of cataracts on WebMd is “age-related.”  Other causes and studies about them are set forth in the New York Times article.

At age 70, I listened to Grandpa tell me about the differences in his vision before and after cataract surgery, and realized that the surgery could be a blessing in disguise.  Our home is all white, better to see the beautiful tropical Florida views from the windows.  Grandpa said he did not realize that our home had previously looked yellow to him until after the surgery, when he saw white.  Cataracts grow slowly, so he had not realized that the color had changed.  He had focused (pun intended) on the first WebMd symptom, ‘vision that’s cloudy, blurry, foggy, or filmy,’ and when that happened, he wanted the surgery.  We never went on WebMd prior for cataracts so did not know “changes in the way you see color” is another top symptom.  I wonder how you know this symptom that sneaks up on you.

Most important, we did not realize that there have been so many advancements in the replacement lenses, that one’s vision can be greatly enhanced.  According to the basics on WebMd, “surgery for cataracts involves removing the clouded lens of the eye (the cataract). The lens can be replaced with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens implant (IOL). “ Now, let’s follow the money in the differences in cost of the replacement lenses.

Grandpa was offered what Medicare would provide, a basic lens, and even that came with a hefty copay for each eye.  Then, he was given greater options at much greater cost.  The best option for him and his vision issues, which would mean he would not need glasses for anything in his future, was nearly ten times the copay for each eye.  WebMd has a link to a site that explains what can be corrected, and it seems to this lay person that one can gain perfect vision, even if that was never in one’s past.  See the link:

Grandpa was excited about the possibility of never wearing glasses again, and chose that option.  Today, the only time he picks up “readers,” and he does very infrequently,  is when the light is poor and the print is the smallest size.  He is thrilled and happy with his result.

Even though I have lived in Florida since my early adulthood and have more than one of the causes of cataracts in my history, according to my doctor, I am not “ready” for cataract surgery.  I therefore assume that cataract surgery is definitely in my future.  I think I still see white in my home, but am curious if the white I see now is the same white I have seen for the last twenty years.  I doubt I will know the answer to that question until surgery, and I hope it is later rather than sooner.

Why?  The scientific advances in artificial lenses are amazing now.  I know the surgery is outpatient and recovery relatively unremarkable now, but I hope all will be even more amazing when I need it.  No glasses even in poor light and with the smallest size print may be in my future and more probably in the future of the parents of our grandchildren.

In the meantime, pass the post along.  We Boomer grandparents will never share the varying costs of the varying options in artificial lenses.  We never want our adult children to be responsible for us and we are totally independent.  However, if Boomer grandparents talk about having to have cataract surgery, the adult children should also explore the options and begin a discussion, if not for those who can assist with the extraordinary cost of better quality of vision lens replacement when needed, but also for familial causes and prevention.  This is a time to remind our adult children to wear sunglasses outside and to put sunglasses on our grandchildren.  As much prevention as we can provide brings the best







Speak Your Mind