What Are Cataracts? A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. The lens refracts light to the retina and… Read More
The eye doctors and experienced cataract surgeons at Gordon Schanzlin New Vision Institute in San Diego specialize in cataract treatment. As a leading vision practice, we offer personalized, effective eye care, including laser assisted cataract surgery and advanced IOL options.
No one knows for sure why age-related changes affect the eye’s lens, but over time the lens, which lies behind the iris and the pupil, begins to cloud. This clouding of the lens is a cataract.
No one knows for sure why the eye’s lens changes as we age, forming cataracts. But over time the lens, which lies behind the iris and the pupil, begins to cloud. This clouding of the lens is a cataract.
In a healthy eye, the lens reflects light onto the retina at the back of the eye and adjusts the focus to allow for clear vision. The lens is mostly made of water and protein. The protein is arranged in a precise way that keeps the lens clear and lets light pass through it. As we age, some of the protein may clump together and start to cloud a small area of the lens. This is a cataract and over time it may grow larger and affect vision.
The only way to be sure you have a cataract and to determine the proper treatment is to see an experienced eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam. There are several tests your eye doctor can use to determine if you have a cataract, including a retinal exam, a refraction and visual acuity test, and a slit-lamp exam, which is a type of microscope. All of these tests are painless.
Although they are associated with older age, anyone can have cataracts. You can develop a cataract as the result of an eye injury, and in rare cases even infants can have congenital cataracts. However, they are most common with aging – more than 22 million people over the age of 40 have cataracts and most people have had a cataract by the age of 80.1,2 There are certain risk factors, in addition to age, that can increase the likelihood of developing cataracts.3
Cataract surgery is the only way to remove a cataract, but if you are diagnosed with a cataract you may not need surgery right away. In the early stages of a cataract, many patients are able to relieve their vision symptoms with brighter lights or updated prescriptions. However, as a cataract progresses vision symptoms will begin to interfere with your quality of life and may prevent you from driving safely or enjoying hobbies such as reading, crafting, or watching television. At that point, it is time to discuss cataract surgery with your eye doctor.
The cataract surgeons at Gordon Schanzlin New Vision Institute utilize state-of-the-art technology to offer advanced cataract removal procedures. Blade-free, laser assisted cataract surgery has many benefits, including greater precision and customized treatment. Numbing drops are used to make the procedure pain-free. Your surgeon will remove the clouded lens and replace it with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL).
Each patient has a unique experience, but typically you will be able to resume regular activities within a few days after surgery. You may temporarily experience blurry vision immediately after surgery, but you will soon notice that colors are brighter and your overall vision is more clear. Temporary, mild discomfort in the day or two after surgery is normal, and it is important to follow all post-surgical instructions and see your eye doctor for all scheduled follow-up appointments.
Cataract surgery is one of the most frequently performed surgeries in the U.S. and it is widely regarded to be a safe and effective procedure.4 Of course, any surgery carries some risk of side effects or complications. Potential risks of cataract surgery include:
The traditional lens option for cataract surgery is a monofocal IOL that is designed to correct your vision at one focusing point. Many patients will still need glasses or contacts for reading or to correct distance vision or astigmatism after surgery with a monofocal lens. However, there are advanced IOL options that can correct multiple vision issues. Toric, Multifocal, Trifocal, and Accommodative IOLs can reduce or eliminate the need for glasses.
Learn more about IOL options at Gordon Schanzlin New Vision Institute
Can I prevent cataracts?
Not exactly – many people will develop cataracts and there is a strong genetic component to this condition. However, you may be able to reduce your cataract risk by quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet with a variety of fruit and vegetables, and protecting your eyes from sunlight.
Can I have blurry vision in just one eye from a cataract?
Cataracts typically develop in both eyes, but you may experience symptoms in one eye first.
My doctor advised me to wait before removing the cataract. Why?
Your doctor is probably advising you to wait until the cataract grows to the point of interfering significantly with your vision. You need to continue to visit your eye doctor regularly to monitor the cataract’s progress. Some cataracts never quite reach the stage where they should be removed. If your cataract is interfering with your vision to the point where it is unsafe to drive, or doing everyday tasks is difficult, then it’s time to discuss surgery with your doctor.
Can cataracts grow back?
No, cataracts do not grow back. This common cataract myth is likely based on a condition called posterior capsule opacity, which is also known as a secondary cataract because it can cause blurred vision. Some patients may develop this condition in the weeks or months after cataract surgery. Your eye doctor can perform a quick, painless procedure to correct posterior capsule opacity.
How much does cataract surgery cost?
Cataract treatment is typically covered by health insurance, but most insurance plans will only cover monofocal lenses. The overall cost of your surgery can vary depending on your customized treatment plan. Patients who choose to pay out-of-pocket for advanced IOL options may be eligible for financing options.
Our team is dedicated to caring for your vision and eye health. Contact us with any questions or to schedule your consultation appointment.
1American Academy of Ophthalmology. Cataract Myths and Facts. Available: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/news/cataract-facts-myths Accessed October 23, 2019.
2National Eye Institute. Cataracts. Available: https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/cataracts Accessed October 23, 2019.
3Mayo Clinic. Cataracts. Available: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cataracts/symptoms-causes/syc-20353790 Accessed October 23, 2019.
4National Eye Institute. Cataract Surgery. Available: https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/cataracts/cataract-surgery Accessed October 23, 2019.