Health Team

Technology has cataracts patients seeing clearer

Posted July 15, 2010 5:35 p.m. EDT
Updated July 15, 2010 6:26 p.m. EDT

— Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness and vision loss in the United States, but new technology called Precision Vision Orange is allowing patients to see clearly again.

A cataract involves a clouding of the eye's natural lens, and surgery is necessary to remove the lens and replace it with an artificial one.

Precision Vision Orange uses a laser to measure optical imperfections during the surgery so that the correct lens strength can be used. Dr. Michael Woodcock, an ophthalmologist at Carolina Vision Center in Fayetteville, says that means fewer patients will end up needing glasses or contacts after surgery.

That's why Joyce Miller chose the procedure.

"I knew I wanted to be able to just wake up and see with no glasses," Miller, 52, said.

A newlywed couple had a scare last weekend when one their wedding rings ended up at the bottom of Lake Gaston.

It takes about two weeks of healing for the best vision results, but Miller says she noticed immediate improvement during her ride home.

"I'm reading the street signs. I have nothing but sunglasses on," she said. "This has been life-changing."

Only 25 centers in the United States use Precision Vision Orange – Carolina Vision Center is the only practice in North Carolina.

Insurance companies, including Medicare, cover the traditional part of the cataract surgery but not the additional cost of the Vision Orange technology.

The additional cost varies by practice, but Woodcock charges an additional $100, which the patient pays out of pocket.

As the population ages, it's expected the number of people with cataracts will increase by 50 percent in the next 10 years.