DURHAM, N.C. — For some people, poor eye sight is just part of getting older. More than half of all Americans develop cataracts by the age of 80. While cataract surgery has been around for a long time, new procedures not only get rid of cataracts, but in some cases, glasses, too.
Deloris and Byron Perry refused to accept poor eye sight in their golden years. Cataracts built up in their eyes and kept them from many of the things they loved, like reading.
A cataract develops inside the eye and clouds or blurs vision. It can cause all kinds of problems.
"I was having difficulty driving, particularly, and not being able to read signs until you were almost upon them," Deloris Perry said.
Her decision to have cataract surgery was easier because of her husband's success a few years earlier.
"There are few surgical procedures in all of medicine that allow you to change someone's life as dramatically as cataract surgery," said Dr. Alan Carlson of the Duke Eye Care Center.
"We're also trying to control the glasses prescription after surgery. In fact, in many cases we're able to get rid of glasses after surgery," Carlson said.
After removing cataract, Carlson inserts a tiny intraocular lens designed specifically for the patient's vision needs.
"Everything now is just very, very sharp, very much in focus," Perry said.
Perry still has a pair of glasses for close-up reading only. Her husband Byron's vision is almost 20/20.
"I can see quite well without my glasses, but my glasses help me sharpen it up a little bit," Byron Perry said.
Cataract and lens replacement surgery takes only a few minutes. Patients usually leave the hospital within an hour after surgery and can be back to normal activity within two days.