Don’t let fear of vision loss blind you into risky decisions

It’s natural to worry about losing your vision someday. After all, three of the leading causes of blindness in the United States — cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration — all become more common as we age and can cause vision loss. But some makers of drugs, supplements and lenses — and even some doctors — take advantage of that fear, recommending treatments that are expensive, unnecessary and even risky. Here’s what you need to know:


The only way to cure cataracts — a clouding of the lens of the eye that impairs vision — is with surgery to replace the bad lens with an artificial one. Although the procedure is very safe and effective, some doctors recommend needless tests or push newer types of lenses that pose risks.
Skip unneeded pre-surgery tests. Cataract surgery, usually performed as an outpatient procedure, requires only a local anesthetic to numb your eye. Research shows that for most people the only pre-op requirements are that you be free of infection and have normal blood pressure and heart rate. Yet many doctors routinely order other tests, including blood counts and electrocardiograms, as would be necessary before a major procedure.
Be wary of premium lenses. In standard cataract surgery, doctors remove the clouded lens and replace it with an artificial, monofocal lens, which provides clear images at either near or far vision. Multifocal lenses do both, so you don’t also have to wear glasses. But these lenses cost up to $4,000 — and usually aren’t covered by insurance. More worrisome, a 2012 review found that while the lenses provided better near vision, they also produced more complaints of halos and glare. However, you might consider a premium intraocular lens if you have an astigmatism, an irregularly shaped cornea.


More than 2.2 million Americans have glaucoma, but only half know it. That makes screening important. Treatment is key, too, because glaucoma can lead to permanent vision loss. But treatment, which often requires several different daily eyedrops, can be expensive and complicated.
Get the right tests. Glaucoma often goes undiagnosed because it causes no symptoms until vision declines, at which point treatment no longer helps. So people ages 40 to 60 should consider being examined by an ophthalmologist or optometrist every three to five years; those older than 60 need an eye exam every one to two years. Though many eye doctors screen for the disease with tonometry — a test that measures eye pressure — that’s not enough. The exam should also include an ophthalmoscopy, which involves examining your optic nerve……..
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Source: Washington Post & Consumer Reports