Cataract FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What exactly is a cataract?

A cataract is a cloudiness of the eye’s natural lens, which lies between the front and back areas of the eye.

  • Are cataracts found only in older people?

About half of the population has a cataract by age 65, and nearly everyone over 75 has at least one. But in rare cases, infants can have congenital cataracts. These are usually related to the mother having German measles, chickenpox, or another infectious disease during pregnancy, and sometimes they are inherited.

  • My doctor says I have a cataract, but he wants to wait a while before removing it. Why?

A cataract usually starts very small and practically unnoticeable but grows gradually larger and cloudier.

You need to continue to visit your eye doctor regularly so the cataract’s progress is monitored. Some cataracts never really reach the stage where they should be removed.

If your cataract is interfering with your vision to the point where it is unsafe to drive, or doing everyday tasks is difficult, then it’s time to seriously consider removing it.

  • Is cataract surgery serious?

All surgery involves some risk, so yes, it is serious. However, cataract surgery is the most commonly performed type of surgery in the United States. Many cataract surgeons have several thousand procedures under their belt. Choosing a surgeon with this much experience will reduce the risk of something going wrong.

  • How is a cataract removed?

A small incision is made near the lens of the eye. The surgeon will either remove the lens as is, or use ultrasound, a laser or surgical solution to break it up, and then remove it. The back membrane of the lens (called the posterior capsule) is left in place. Usually, a replacement lens (called an intraocular lens or IOL) is inserted.

  • How much does cataract surgery cost?

It varies by patient and depends on the eyewear that is prescribed and the type of artificial lens (intraocular lens) used as a replacement.

Medicare and most health insurance plans will cover cataract surgery and ordinary intraocular lenses, but not the cost of premium artificial lenses that simultaneously correct vision at near, intermediate and distant ranges. These types of lenses can cost more and would not be covered by insurance, patients may opt get them for increased quality of life.

  • What are possible side effects of cataract surgery?

As with any surgery, pain, infection, swelling and bleeding are possible, but very few patients have serious problems or cataract surgery complications. Dr. Coulter is able to detect these problems in your post op appointment and may prescribe medications for these effects.

Retinal detachment also occurs in a few people. Be on the lookout for excessive pain, vision loss, or nausea, and report these symptoms to immediately.