Choosing a doctor for cataract surgery is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.
Getting cataract surgery can actually help you live longer. So, your choice will determine the quality of your vision for many years to come. There are a number of considerations, some of which can affect your need for glasses after the procedure. You should look at everything from the cost and location to the surgeon’s experience.
There are several modern technologies that can make a huge difference to your results. However, not all surgeons even offer a choice of the technology or are qualified to use it. While cataract surgery is a common procedure, finding the right doctor to do it can be a challenging task. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your options, keep reading. You’re about to find out how to choose the best cataract surgeon for you.
How Cataract Surgery Works
To make the right decision about a surgeon, you should know how your surgery is going to be performed.
The basis of a cataract surgery is the removal of a cloudy lens. The lens of an eye is normally clear. However, often as we age our vision can start to appear foggy, and surgery is the only way to remove this “cataract.”
Your surgeon will take out the cloudy lens during surgery, and insert an artificial one.
Your surgeon should tell you what you should do to prepare for the surgery. For example, you may need to stop taking certain medicines prior to the procedure. You may also need to administer eye drops to stop infection and swelling.
On the day of the surgery, you will be given numbing eye drops or an injection. You will be awake, but don’t worry, sometimes you will also get a medicine to relax. You won’t be able to see what the surgeon is doing.
The doctor goes through a small incision and uses small instruments to break up the lens and remove it. Then the new artificial lens is inserted. The incisions will usually heal and close over time.
You will get a shield placed over your eye to protect it. Then, after a short rest period, you will be ready to go home.
Like any other serious surgery, there are risks. Some of these that the American Academy of Ophthalmology lists are eye infection, pain, and vision loss. However, the surgery is very common and you can reduce risk by choosing an experienced surgeon.
Check the Surgeon’s Board Certification
If you have a particular cataract surgeon in mind, always verify their credentials before making any plans. Experience is important, but the basic qualification of being board-certified is non-negotiable.
A professional board will have strict standards in place that its members must meet. The certification shows a level of experience and professionalism that you need for this important type of surgery.
You can verify a surgeon through the American Board of Ophthalmology. Another way to do so is through a state licensing board or the National Practitioner Data Bank. Professional organizations, such as the American Academy of Ophthalmology, also keep lists of members.
Choosing Between Cataract Surgeons
When choosing a cataract surgeon, you should be aware that not all “eye doctors” can perform eye surgery. The medical doctors who perform this surgery are called ophthalmologists, and they are qualified and certified in the field. An optometrist can give you a vision test or eye exam, but cannot perform your surgery. One of the most important factors in your choice is the experience your potential cataract surgeon has. If you visit the surgeon in person, there are some key questions you should ask.
These include the number of surgeries he/she has done, as well as details about the procedure itself. For example, who will see you on your first postoperative day? Will it be the same surgeon, or another ophthalmologist or member of staff? In addition to your consultation, a good surgeon or their staff will most likely give you handouts covering many of your questions.
Check Them Out Online
When you are looking for a hotel or a restaurant, past reviews are important. With a cataract surgeon, the role of reviews is even more important. Patient testimonials are another tool to use to choose the right surgeon for you.
Luckily, many sites exist that allow former patients to describe their experience with surgeons and practices. You can look for reviews on Google, Yelp, and many more websites. Positive reviews are often posted on the surgeon’s website.
While they play an important role, keep in mind that the opinions are subjective. Reviewers may not reveal all of the background information concerning their case. Evaluating reviews from strangers can be tricky. However, if you see a trend of negative reviews and unhappy patients, it’s best to choose another surgeon.
Get Referrals from People You Know
You may feel more comfortable getting a personal recommendation than one from a stranger.
With cataract surgery being so common, it’s likely you know one or more people who’ve done it before. Ask your relatives, friends or neighbors for a referral to a cataract surgeon. The feedback they give you can be an invaluable tool in making your decision.
Ask them if they were happy with their surgeon and if they would recommend him/her. You can also ask general questions about the experience, and get information that a surgeon may not tell you.
Exercise caution though. You should not let an online review be your only source of information. Treat referrals in the same way, as every surgery is different and yours may not be the same as your friend or relative.
However, there’s nothing wrong with using a good referral as the final piece of the puzzle. If you’ve done your research through other sources, by all means, take that recommendation.
The Type of Lens
Once you’ve decided to have surgery, you can expect to be fitted with an “IOL” or intraocular lens. This artificial lens will replace your cloudy one. There are two main types your cataract surgeon may use.
The conventional monofocal IOL gives great clarity of vision. It’s excellent for driving and other tasks where you need long distance vision.
However, there is a drawback if you choose this type of lens. You will usually need reading glasses after surgery.
It’s possible to do monovision cataract surgery, but this means that only one of your eyes will be able to see distant objects.
Many people do not want to wear glasses at all after their surgery. For this reason, experts developed a lens that works for all distances. This premium option is called a presbyopia-correcting IOL.
The great thing about it is that it provides you with an extended range of vision, freeing you from any need for eyeglasses no matter the activity.
Your cataract surgeon should be a specialized expert in order to install this option. Make sure they both comfortable with the advanced lens and familiar with the new technology.
No matter your choice, make sure the eye center you choose works with you to choose the best lens for your lifestyle.
What Technology Will the Surgeon Use?
When you are deciding on a cataract surgeon, be sure to ask about the equipment and technology he/she will use. This is especially important for the modern types of lens that work at all distances.
It’s popular for a cataract surgeon to offer laser surgery among their repertoire of treatment. If you decide to go ahead with the presbyopia-correcting lens, it’s best to combine the installation with laser. This will give you the most precise results and better vision.
Cost of the Surgery
For many people, a major consideration in choosing a cataract surgeon will be if their insurance or Medicare is accepted. The cost of the surgery is the other major concern. Surgery costs will vary based on a number of things. This is why it’s important to shop around. The location is one significant variable. If you choose a city like New York City or Los Angeles, higher overheads will lead to higher treatment costs.
Think about if you’re willing to travel for better treatment. Or it could be that convenience is more important to you.
All these considerations will factor into the bottom line. Once you get an estimate, compare your options side by side.
An important thing to note is that new technology lenses cost extra. You will have to pay out of pocket for this premium surgery option. Medicare and most insurance policies will cover the standard monofocal lens. Laser surgery may or may not be covered, so if you choose to do it, consult with your doctor first.
The Practice’s Location
No matter what state or city you live in, you deserve the best care possible. You may be considering a surgeon that’s close to home. But is this really the best option? Consider these factors before choosing the location of your surgery.
First of all, you should consider what costs of care your insurance will cover. The location of the surgery may not matter, but if your surgeon is out of network, you may incur a cost.
The travel expenses may add up. There’s the cost of airfare, lodging and meals to consider. On the other hand, the amount the eye center charges for your surgery may be lower than a local doctor.
You should consult with your doctor about traveling after your procedure. There may be medical complications with traveling after surgery.
You should also know if your hometown health team can give you the necessary follow up care. There’s a possibility that you may need to return to the original facility after your initial procedure.
A good eye center may have staff that works specifically with out of state patients. This patient navigator can help with both your travel arrangements and the coordination of your care. They can even make sure your medical records are received and help with communication between your hometown and out of state doctor.
Does the Surgeon Offer Free Consultations?
The consultation stage is a vital part of choosing your cataract surgeon. You may have to meet with multiple surgeons as a part of your decision-making process. Does the one you are considering provide a consultation free of charge?
One advantage of a consultation is that you are able to experience the ambiance of the eye center.
Do you feel comfortable with the staff, are they friendly and responsive? You will have to interact with them in follow up appointments. If they are not attentive or courteous the entire experience will be tedious and stressful.
When you’ve left the eye center, evaluate the professionalism of both staff and doctor. All of these impressions together make a difference to a successful eye surgery.
The first meeting and eye exam will also give you the chance to speak one-on-one with the surgeon. You will also get a sense of what their bedside manner is like and if it matches your needs. If there’s anything you are curious about, ask about it at this stage.
While at the consultation, expect to receive information on the potential complications of the surgery. Your cataract surgeon should tell you exactly what to expect.
When you are ready to book you can request an appointment online or via the phone.
Now You Know How to Choose the Best Cataract Surgeon for You
Now that you have the tools to decide on the best cataract surgeon for you, you can investigate your options. Perform due diligence until you are absolutely comfortable with the surgeon you choose. Your vision is an important part of your quality of life and you want to make the right choice.
While you should not rush a decision, don’t wait until your cataracts worsen to see a doctor. We offer the latest and best in lens technology and have a number of experienced and qualified ophthalmologists at our practice. Go ahead contact us today.