Cataract surgery booming in U.S. as Americans age

Did you know one of the most common surgeries in the United States is cataract surgery?

One of the most common surgeries in the U.S. is cataract surgery. It makes sense when you consider almost 25 million Americans have cataracts. Today, the surgery is so simple you can be in and out in one day.

Sixty-four-year-old Susan Feigenbaum says she sees as clearly now as she did in her 20s.

She pointed to an eye chart at the Pepose Vision Institute in Chesterfield, "I can see all the way down to the address of the manufacturer's chart."

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Her vision today is much sharper than it was just a few years ago.

"I was afraid to be out in the dark behind the wheel," she explained.

It was when Feigenbaum turned 60 that she really started to notice the cloudiness in her vision. She dealt with it for a while, accepting this was part of getting older.

"It crimped my style, it crimped my schedule, and I wish that I had done it earlier," she said.

It just so happens Feigenbaum's husband is an eye doctor, Dr. Jay Pepose of the Pepose Vision Institute.

Dr. Pepose joked about his wife’s failing eyesight, "We were having the wall repainted over and over again because we couldn't get the colors right."

After examining her eyes and finding she had cataracts, he convinced her to get cataract surgery and he did the procedure.

When asked what the surgery is like. He said it was quick and easy. Dr. Pepose laughed about how his wife fell asleep while he was working on her eye.

"I’ve never heard her not talk for 15 minutes. That was the first time in 43 years," The married couple laughed.

It was night and day for Feigenbaum who's an economics professor at UMSL.

"I do a lot of reading as a professor. A lot of computer work. I have no glare issues, I have no problems driving at night,” she smiled.

"It is the most common surgery done in the United States. Over 3 and a half million cataract surgeries done this year alone," said Dr. Pepose.

Part of the reason this procedure is so common is because Baby Boomers have reached the age when eyesight starts to deteriorate.

Dr. Pepose said, "Someone is turning 60 every 10 seconds in the United States."

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The cataract surgery has also become more advanced. Dr. Pepose says it takes 20 minutes and people are driving the next day.

"I think people are no longer waiting for that end stage of lens dysfunction and having it done a lot earlier," he explained.