I explain to my patients that the eye contains a lens that can be thought of as the lens in a camera. When we are younger ( usually less than 40), this lens does our focusing for us. The natural lens in the eye is clear when we are babies ( a few babies are born with an opaque lens), but as we age, that lens become brown and we then call the lens a cataract. A cataract is an aging process in the eye.
Cataract surgery is an outpatient surgery, which is painless, and typically only takes less than 10 minutes to perform. Patients are discharged home after the procedure. During the procedure, the natural lens in your eye is removed, and replaced with an artificial lens. The artificial lens is permanent. Patients have choices on the artificial lens model that is implanted in the eye. Some lens choices are covered by your health insurance as a routine part of the procedure, and others are considered cosmetic choices, and not covered by your health insurance. Specialty lenses that are placed in the eye for the purpose of decreasing or eliminating your dependence on glasses and/or contact lenses, are not covered by your health insurance, and hence you will be asked to pay out of your pocket for these lenses. You can liken this to the fact that most health insurances do not pay for glasses or contact lenses. Specialty lenses are viewed as a cosmetic procedure because they are placed for the purposes of not wearing glasses or contact lenses the majority of the time.
Lens implants are available to treat astigmatism ( a curvature of your cornea ), as well as to decrease or eliminate the need for reading glasses. In fact, you can eliminate your dependence on glasses for distance and near viewing, 95-100 percent of the time. And, the good thing about doing so with an intraocular lens is, that unlike refractive surgery ( LASIK ), this vision correction solution is permanent.