This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.
When Johnson & Johnson Vision approached me about bringing awareness to cataracts and cataract surgery, it was a no-brainer. My dad has cataracts and so did my grandmother, so I know that they can be debilitating and have a real impact on your day-to-day life. But I also had a lot of questions about cataracts: What are they exactly? Are they hereditary? Do I have to worry about me and my children getting them? What are the treatments available for my dad and for me down the road if I develop them? Researching this article has been educational for me and hopefully will be for you as well.
What Are Cataracts?
First, what exactly are cataracts? According to Beyond Cataracts, “a cataract is an extremely common, naturally occurring ‘clouding’ or ‘yellowing’ of the lens in your eye, which can cause foggy vision, as if you’re looking through a frosty or dirty window, among many other symptoms. Cataracts happen to most people as we get older, starting to develop in your 40s and 50s with symptoms becoming noticeable by age 60 to 70.” They go on to say that usually, cataracts develop in both eyes, but one may be worse than the other. This can cause your vision to be different in each eye.
I can’t imagine what it must be like having your vision severely impaired. It must be so difficult not being able to see well at home, but it must be even more challenging when you’re traveling and in unfamiliar environments.
Travel can be challenging at the best of times so I have nothing but respect for those who do it and can’t see well or are blind. I have traveled the world with my father, taking him to as many different places as I could. But I’ve seen his vision deteriorating due to cataracts because of his age (he’s 93!) and it breaks my heart that he can no longer see the true beauty of the world around him, the natural landscapes, attractions, sunrises and sunsets, food and of course, the people.
What Causes Cataracts?
Because my father has cataracts, I wondered: Are they hereditary? Am I more at risk because my dad has them? According to Beyond Cataracts, cataracts are a natural part of the aging process for most people and approximately 50% of people over the age of 75 have cataracts, though many may not experience symptoms for months or even years after the cataract develops.
But other risk factors can cause cataracts to develop more quickly or earlier in life, including:
- Diseases such as: glaucoma, diabetes, hypothyroidism, or an autoimmune disorder
- Lifestyle: regularly using tobacco, alcohol, and/or corticosteroids
- Overexposure: to sunlight, UV rays or X-ray
- Eye Trauma: eye-related injuries, burn
- Nutritional Deficiency: low levels of antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenoids)
Symptoms of Cataracts
There are several cataract symptoms to look out for:
- Blurred, dim, hazy, or cloudy vision, like you’re looking through a dirty or smudged window, and you find yourself squinting or blinking more often to get better focus
- Increased sensitivity to light and glare, like from oncoming cars’ headlights when driving at night
- Seeing “halos” around lights, such as lamps, headlights, and glare from the sun
- Needing brighter light for indoor activities, like reading
- Fading or yellowing of colors, so you may have trouble differentiating between colors in the same family, such as blue and purple
- Colors don’t look as bright as before or are becoming yellowish
- Double vision in a single eye
- Whitish or gray film over your eye when you look in the mirror
- Frequent changes in your eyeglass or contact lens prescription
Are Cataracts Permanent?
Fortunately, thanks to technology, cataracts don’t have to be permanent. While checking out Beyond Cataracts, I learned that cataracts start small and form slowly and that you may not notice any impact on your vision at first. They say, “Then, as the cataract grows larger and it clouds more of your lens, it will distort the light passing through the lens, which will lead to more noticeable symptoms.”
I also had no idea that roughly 24.4 million Americans age 40 and older currently have cataracts. That’s almost 25 million, which is the population of Australia. That’s an insane amount of people. But there are options.
Cataract Treatment Options
Once you’ve developed cataracts, if prescription glasses don’t help to improve your vision, the only treatment option is surgery. But it’s good to know that cataract surgery is one of the most common operations in the United States. In order to remove your cataract, your natural lens must be removed so that your doctor can access the clouded lens using one of two methods: manual or laser-assisted.
Intraocular lenses (IOLs) are a common solution to improve vision for cataract patients. So, what exactly are IOLs? They are small, soft lenses that are surgically implanted into the eye as part of cataract treatment. For an IOL to deliver high quality vision, it should perform regardless of lighting or contrast conditions, and sustain that visual performance for the life of the lens.
After researching more about lenses, I learned about the TECNIS Synergy™ IOL from Johnson & Johnson Vision. These lenses are unique because they offer sharp, clear near vision* even in low light conditions and patients have experienced superior image† contrast day and night. These lenses seem to be a good option for people who want minimal use of glasses‡ when it comes to seeing up close and personal as well as far away.
An example of a patient that might choose TECNIS Synergy™ IOL would be someone who drives without using glasses but is looking to see better at the computer and up close without having to rely on glasses.
You can learn more about cataract treatment options here and here’s what you need to know if you’re considering cataract surgery.
I just went to my eye doctor recently since I hadn’t gone at all last year, due to COVID-19. Because of my dad’s cataracts and macular degeneration, I prioritize my eye health because I want to do what I can to maintain good vision as I age. Fortunately, my doctor said my eyes are in great shape and I just need to use readers when I read. No prescription is needed for them and they’re inexpensive so I bought a whole bunch of them and have them all around the house, in my car and multiple pairs in my carry-on bag because I can’t even read my emails without them.
It’s never too early (or too late) to start taking care of your eyes. If you don’t have an eye doctor, you can find an ophthalmologist here.
*TECNIS® IOLs are not associated with glistenings
†Vs. PanOptix® IOL
‡TECNIS Synergy cannot guarantee spectacle independence; based on a 6 months post operative data, 93% of patients reported not wearing glasses
INDICATIONS AND IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION FOR TECNIS SYNERGY™ IOL WITH TECNIS SIMPLICITY® DELIVERY SYSTEM, MODEL DFR00V AND TECNIS SYNERGY™ TORIC II IOL WITH TECNIS SIMPLICITY® DELIVERY SYSTEM, MODELS DFW150, DFW225, DFW300, DFW375
The TECNIS Simplicity® Delivery System is used to fold and assist in inserting the TECNIS Synergy™ IOL, which is indicated for primary implantation for the visual correction of aphakia in adult patients, with less than 1 diopter of pre-existing corneal astigmatism, in whom a cataractous lens has been removed. The TECNIS Simplicity® Delivery System is used to fold and assist in inserting the TECNIS Synergy™ Toric II IOLs that are indicated for primary implantation for the visual correction of aphakia and for reduction of refractive astigmatism in adult patients with greater than or equal to 1 diopter of preoperative corneal astigmatism, in whom a cataractous lens has been removed. Compared to an aspheric monofocal lens, the TECNIS Synergy™ IOLs mitigate the effects of presbyopia by providing improved visual acuity at intermediate and near distances to reduce eyeglass wear, while maintaining comparable distance visual acuity. The lens is intended for capsular bag placement only.
Intraocular lenses may exacerbate an existing condition, may interfere with diagnosis or treatment of a condition or may pose an unreasonable risk to the eyesight of patients. Patients should have well-defined visual needs and be informed of possible visual effects (such as a perception of halo, starburst or glare around lights), which may be expected in nighttime or poor visibility conditions. Patients may perceive these visual effects as bothersome, which, on rare occasions, may be significant enough for the patient to request removal of the IOL. The physician should carefully weigh the potential risks and benefits for each patient. Patients with a predicted postoperative residual astigmatism greater than 1.0 diopter, with or without a toric lens, may not fully benefit in terms of reducing spectacle wear. Rotation of the TECNIS Synergy™ Toric II IOL from its intended axis can reduce its astigmatic correction. Misalignment greater than 30° may increase postoperative refractive cylinder. If necessary, lens repositioning should occur as early as possible, prior to lens encapsulation. The lens and delivery system should be discarded if the lens has been folded within the cartridge for more than 10 minutes. Not doing so may result in the lens being stuck in the cartridge. Do not attempt to disassemble, modify, or alter the delivery system or any of its components, as this can significantly affect the function and/or structural integrity of the design.
Interpret results with caution when using autorefractors or wavefront aberrometers that utilize infrared light, or when performing a duochrome test. Confirmation of refraction with maximum plus manifest refraction technique is strongly recommended. The ability to perform some eye treatments (e.g., retinal photocoagulation) may be affected by the IOL optical design. The surgeon should target emmetropia, as this lens is designed for optimum visual performance when emmetropia is achieved. The TECNIS Synergy™ IOLs should not be placed in the ciliary sulcus. Carefully remove all viscoelastic and do not over-inflate the capsular bag at the end of the case. Residual viscoelastic and/or over-inflation of the capsular bag may allow the lens to rotate, causing misalignment of the TECNIS Synergy™ Toric II IOL. All preoperative surgical parameters are important when choosing a TECNIS Synergy™ Toric II IOL for implantation, including preoperative keratometric cylinder (magnitude and axis), incision location, the surgeon’s estimated surgically induced astigmatism (SIA) and biometry. Variability in any of the preoperative measurements can influence patient outcomes and the effectiveness of treating eyes with lower amounts of preoperative corneal astigmatism. The effectiveness of TECNIS Synergy™ Toric II IOLs in reducing postoperative residual astigmatism in patients with preoperative corneal astigmatism < 1.0 diopter has not been demonstrated. Patients with a predicted postoperative astigmatism greater than 1.0 D may not be suitable candidates for implantation with the TECNIS Synergy™ and TECNIS Synergy™ Toric II IOLs, as they may not obtain the benefits of reduced spectacle wear or improved intermediate and near vision seen in patients with lower predicted postoperative astigmatism.
ATTENTION: Reference the Directions for Use for a complete listing of Indications and Important Safety Information.
 Beyond Cataracts https://www.beyondcataracts.com/cataracts/what-is-cataract
 National Eye Institute. Cataract Data and Statistics. https://www.nei.nih.gov/eyedata/cataract
 Beyond Cataracts Website https://www.beyondcataracts.com/cataracts/cataract-symptoms
 American Academy of Ophthalmology. Eye health statistics at a glance. Updated April 2011.
http://www.aao.org/newsroom/upload/Eye-Health-Statistics-April-2011.pdf. Accessed June 13, 2013.
Weeber H. MTF of the TECNIS Synergy™ OptiBlue® IOL, and other lens models. 27 Mar 2019.
6Clinical Investigation of the TECNIS® Next-Generation IOL Model ZFR00 (TECNIS Synergy™ IOL): 6-Month POC Data. 23 Apr 2019.