Cataract is the world’s leading cause of blindness, accounting for approximately 42 percent of all cases of blindness in all nations. According to the report “Future of Vision – Forecasting the Prevalence and Costs of Vision Problems”, more than 25 million Americans are estimated to have cataract. As the population in the US continues to age, the number of cataract cases is projected to increase by 50 percent to 38.5 million by 2032. With an objective to generate widespread information about cataracts, the month of June is observed as “Cataract Awareness Month” in the United States. Sponsored by Prevent Blindness, the campaign aims to educate the public on cataract – its symptoms, types and treatment options. In simple terms, a cataract is a dense, cloudy area that forms in the lens of the eye. The condition begins when proteins in the eyes form clumps that prevent the lens from sending clear images to the retina. If left untreated, cataracts can interfere with daily activities and lead to blindness. Surgery to remove the clouded lens is the most recommended treatment for this condition. For correct clinical documentation of this eye condition, ophthalmologists can utilize the services of professional medical billing and coding companies.
The 2021 campaign aims to provide clear answers to some of the common misconceptions and myths about cataracts. It aims to educate people more about the causes and treatment of cataracts. In most cases, cataracts develop when aging or injury changes the tissue that makes up the lens of the eyes. Other related causes include – inherited genetic disorders, past eye surgery, long-term use of steroid medications, excessive exposure to sunlight and prevalence of certain medical conditions like diabetes. The condition develops slowly and eventually interferes with a person’s vision – forming cataracts in both eyes (but not at the same time). The condition is more common in older people, with estimates suggesting that over half of the people in the United States have cataracts or have undergone cataract surgery by the time they are 80 years old.
Generally, cataracts are of different types and are classified based on where and how they develop in a person’s eyes. Some of the common types include – nuclear cataracts, traumatic cataracts, congenital cataracts, cortical cataracts, secondary cataracts, posterior capsular cataracts, and radiation cataracts. In the initial stages, the cloudiness in the vision caused by this condition may affect only a small part of the eye’s lens and people may be quite unaware about any kind of vision loss. However, as the condition progresses, it clouds more of the lens and distorts the light passing through the lens, resulting in more noticeable symptoms. Some of the common symptoms associated with the condition include – clouded, blurred or dim vision, sensitivity to light and glare, seeing “halos” around lights, increasing difficulty with vision at night, frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription, fading or yellowing of colors and double vision in a single eye.
To correctly determine whether a person has cataract, ophthalmologists would conduct a detailed eye examination, review of previous medical history, and symptoms. Several tests like – visual acuity test, slit-lamp examination and retinal exam will be performed. In cases where prescription glasses can’t clear a person’s vision problem, the only effective treatment is surgery. In most cases, ophthalmologists recommend cataract surgery when the condition begins to affect a person’s quality of life or interfere with their ability to perform normal daily activities, such as reading or driving at night. Surgery involves removing the clouded lens and replacing it with a clear artificial lens – called an intraocular lens – which is positioned in the same place as the natural lens and remains as a permanent part of the eye. For some people, certain other eye problems may prevent the use of an artificial lens. In such cases, once the cataract is removed, vision may be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Ophthalmology medical billing and coding can be challenging. The diagnosis tests and treatment procedures performed must be clearly documented using the correct medical codes. Medical billing and coding companies can assist physicians with their medical coding and claims submission. In ICD-10-CM, codes for cataract come under the category – H25 – H28. Under each specific cataract type, there are several sub-category codes.
- H25 Age-related cataract
- H25.0 Age-related incipient cataract
- H25.1 Age-related nuclear cataract
- H25.2 Age-related cataract, morgagnian type
- H25.8 Other age-related cataract
- H25.9 Unspecified age-related cataract
- H26 Other cataract
- H26.0 Infantile and juvenile cataract
- H26.1 Traumatic cataract
- H26.2 Complicated cataract
- H26.3 Drug-induced cataract
- H26.4 Secondary cataract
- H26.8 Other specified cataract
- H26.9 Unspecified cataract
- H27 Other disorders of lens
- H27.0 Aphakia
- H27.1 Dislocation of lens
- H27.8 Other specified disorders of lens
- H27.9 Unspecified disorder of lens
- H28 Cataract in diseases classified elsewhere
As mentioned above, the primary focus of this month-long initiative by Prevent Blindness is on generating widespread awareness about cataract. No studies have proved how to prevent or reduce the occurrence of cataracts. However, eye specialists may advise several strategies like – performing regular eye examinations, keeping medical conditions like diabetes under control, protecting the eyes from UVB rays (by wearing sunglasses outside), eating fruits and vegetables that contain antioxidants, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting the habit of smoking, and reducing the intake of alcohol.
The month of June was first designated as “Cataract Awareness Month” by the organization Prevent Blindness. Established in 1908, the organization is a trailblazer in the eye-care industry that went on to organize and get many legislations approved that would aid in preventing eye diseases in infants and age-related vision problems in adults. Over the years, the scope of the campaign widened and touched the lives of millions of people. As part of the month-long initiative, several programs like talk shows, charity runs, and poster exhibitions related to cataracts are arranged all over the US. In addition, people can also participate in the campaign by making donations to eye organizations, conducting certified vision screening and training, community and patient service programs and research – to encourage people to self educate themselves on cataract and its treatment and prevention measures.