Blindness or low vision affects approximately 3.3 million Americans age 40 and older, or one in 28. This figure is expected to reach 5.5 million by 2020. The study conducted by the Eye Disease Prevalence Research Group and sponsored by National Eye Institute, (NEl) of the National Institutes of Health was published in April 2004. Low vision and blindness increase significantly with age, particularly in people over 65. People 80 years of age and older currently make up eight percent of the population but account for 69 percent of blindness.

Half of all blindness can be prevented or cured with appropriate intervention by a qualified eye care provider. Cataracts are the leading cause of low vision among all Americans, responsible for approximately 50 percent of all cases. Current estimates for the incidence of cataracts in America are 20.5 million. That incidence is projected to increase to over 30 million by 2020. Fortunately for patients, intervention for cataracts is a relatively low risk, painless outpatient surgical procedure: cataract extraction with intraocular lens implant (IOL). Patient outcomes with this procedure are consistently exceptional experiencing visual acuity at levels they had not known for decades. The quality of life impact is significant.

Like eyeglasses, lOLs correct vision by bending or refracting light. Conventional lOLs used to treat cataracts have only a single power, patients therefore lose their ability to accommodate, or focus from far to near. Newer technology lOLs solve that problem through a variety of mechanisms that allow for near and far vision. These multi-focal or accommodating lOLs will be an alternative to other refractive surgery modalities and are expected to become the treatment of choice for presbyopia over the next ten years.

As a result of the rising costs associated with outpatient surgery in hospitals, surgical procedures are increasingly performed in ambulatory surgery centers (“ASC”). ASCs are facilities where surgeries that do not require hospital admission are performed. Over 70% of all surgery in the United States now is scheduled in outpatient settings and 37% of the surgery performed in ASCs is ophthalmology surgery. Medicare as well as other payers continue to extend the list of procedures approved for ASC reimbursement. In addition to their cost effectiveness, ASCs also offer convenience to the physicians and the patients. ASCs are designed for efficiency in the flow of the surgical process resulting in time and cost savings. To learn more about the benefits of ASC’s click here!

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