Cataracts,…..Now what? ©

Cataracts are on my mind today because this afternoon I have an appointment with my eye doctor to assess the condition of the cataracts he told me I had a couple of years ago but were not yet ready for treatment. So there, I guess I’ve blown my HIIPA privacy!

By the way, have you heard about the new HIIPA privacy regulations that prohibit the reception nurse from calling out your name when it’s your turn to go back to see the doctor? So, to comply the nurse called the next patient: “Will the lady with the hemorrhoids please come back”?! Just kidding of course; I saw that cartoon a couple weeks ago and just couldn’t resist sharing it with you.

What are cataracts anyway? Of course, I’m not a medical professional of any kind so I have to research for this kind of information. My go-to place for all things medical to start with is WebMD.com. Here’s what they have to say: A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Cataracts are strongly linked to aging, and many people develop them in one or both eyes as they get older”. In fact, according to the National Eye Institute, half of all Americans will either develop a cataract or have had cataract surgery by age 80.

One thing I didn’t realize as I was studying this is that cataracts are more likely to occur among women. In fact, in 2010, 61 percent of Americans with cataract were women; 39 percent were men.

And here is a somewhat troubling statistic which is due to the aging of our population: By 2050, the number of people in the U.S. with cataract is expected to double from 24.4 million to about 50 million. Can you imagine what a strain that’s going to be on our Medicare system?

And speaking of Medicare, I’m sure one question on your mind as you read this is “Does Medicare cover cataract treatment”? Here is a direct quote from the website: “If you have Medicare coverage and your doctor determines that cataract surgery is medically necessary, Medicare covers the procedure to remove the cataract, as well as doctor services and related care following your surgery.

You may be responsible for certain costs, including deductibles, copayments, and/or coinsurance.”

So what is the treatment procedure? You may remember as I do, that it was a very tedious thing when we seniors were kids. In fact I remember my parents telling me that after cataract removal back in their day, the patient had to have his head placed between sandbags to keep his head immobilized during the healing process. Today, it is far, far different. While I don’t have the space nor the expertise to go into the details here, if you’re interested, I’d encourage you to o to this WebMD site for a very enlightening slide show which will provide a lot of answers to the questions you may have: http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/cataracts/ss/slideshow-cataract-surgery-expect.

I hope this has been a bit enlightening for you. If you or a loved one have or suspect you have cataracts, you are very blessed to live now instead of when our grandparents did. Just remember to tell the receptionist that you have cataracts, not hemorrhoids!

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

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