By 2030, 38 million Americans will suffer from cataracts, a number that will increase to 50 million by 2050, according to the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health. The most common treatment for cataracts is surgery, and new research suggests its benefits are strong.
A study of patient satisfaction surveys revealed that almost all patients who undergo cataract surgery are satisfied with their vision and quality of life post-surgery. The study, from the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) Institute for Quality Improvement, showed that 99.7 percent of patients would recommend the procedure to friends or relatives suffering from cataracts. Ninety-six percent of patients reported that their vision was better post-surgery, and 98 percent said they were comfortable during the procedure and post-discharge. What’s more, 96 percent returned to normal activities of daily living within one week of the procedure.
“The data clearly shows that patients find value in cataract surgery and are generally very pleased with the outcomes of the procedure,” said Naomi Kuznets, Ph.D., vice president and senior director for the AAAHC Institute for Quality Improvement.
Cataracts occur when protein builds up on the lens of an eye, making the person’s vision cloudy. According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, common symptoms of cataracts include clouded, blurred or dimmed vision, increasing difficulty with vision at night and sensitivity to light or glare. Individuals experiencing these symptoms should consult an ophthalmologist to see if they are candidates for cataract surgery.
“The satisfaction numbers in this study show how worthwhile cataract surgery is for so many individuals,” said Kris Kilgore, R.N., AAAHC Institute board member and administrative director of Grand Rapids Ophthalmology Surgical Care Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “Every day we hear from patients who have improved quality of life thanks to this procedure. This study bears out empirically the wonderful anecdotes we hear from patients every day.”
Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure, meaning it requires no overnight hospital stay. During cataract surgery, a surgeon makes a small incision to remove the cloudy lens, and then replaces it with a clear, manmade lens. To reduce the costs of the procedure and for patients’ convenience, surgeons commonly schedule cataract procedures at surgery centers, which are small surgical facilities that may be on a hospital campus or offsite.
The safety of these facilities is overseen by government regulators and by accrediting bodies such as AAAHC. During an accreditation evaluation by AAAHC, a trained medical professional visits a surgical facility to personally verify its adherence to patient safety, quality care and value standards.
If you are a candidate for cataract surgery, visit www.aaahc.org to find a local AAAHC-accredited facility.