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Cataracts & What to Expect?

Clear lens versus an eye with cataracts

What is a Cataract?

A cataract is an eye condition that develops slowly as we age.  All of us have a lens in our eye to help focus the light or an image onto our retina, so we can see.  As overtime as we get older, the protein around the lens will start to clump together and cloud the lens.  This protein growth and clouding on the lens is called a cataract.

At the early stages of cataracts, a new eyeglasses prescription, brighter lighting, and anti-glare sunglasses may help.  However, over time the cataract will grow larger and cloud more of the lens. Then, the only effective way to remove the cataract is to remove the lens.  Your cataract surgeon will remove the clouded lens and replace the old lens with a new one.  At Pacific Eye Associates, we have the newest lenses available and our surgeons use the most advanced cataract techniques to help you achieve the best visual outcome.  

View Video

What are the symptoms?

  • Blurry, cloudy vision
  • Increased sensitivity to glare, especially from the sun or oncoming car headlights
  • A sudden, temporary improvement in vision of close objects called second sight
  • Sudden inability to focus on far away objects, known as nearsightedness
  • Changes in perception of color, particularly yellow tones
  • Double vision

What to expect during a cataract consultation?

First, the technicians will review your medical history and symptoms, and perform a routine eye examination. The eye exam will measure how well you can read the series of letters and if your eyes show signs of impairment.  The technician may ask whether or not if you’ve had any difficulties with your eyesight.  After the routine eye exam has been completed, your doctor’s technician will dilate your pupils.  It’s not uncommon for the technician to guide you back to the waiting room as you dilate.

Next, you’ll meet with your doctor.  Your cataract doctor will check the health of your eyes using different instruments.  With these different instruments and devices, your eye doctor will examine the front structures, as well as, the back interior of your eye, to detect any abnormalities.

If your vision can be corrected with glasses or contacts, then your doctor will provide prescription glasses to clear your vision. If your vision can’t be corrected with glasses or contacts, then cataract surgery will most likely be the solution. 

Cataract Surgery at Pacific Eye Associates

Dr. Danny Lin, Scott So, and Karen Oxford are experienced and precise surgeons who all have 15+ years of experience.  Currently, there are two ways to approach cataract surgery, laser or traditional.  Laser and traditional options both have their benefits and our doctors will guide you through both methods and determine which option will work best for your eyes.   View Video

Cataract surgery is a simple and safe procedure that is quick and relatively pain-free.  The doctor will make a small incision to break up and remove the cataract.  Remember, in order to treat your cataract, that your old lens will be removed.  This step may sound intimidating, but there are different ways to move the cataract / your old lens depending on your cataract, eyesight, and lens chosen. 

Lens Removal

Depending on the type of your cataract, the lens removal may be in one of the following ways:

  • Phacoemulsification (Phaco): A very small incision is made in your eye and your doctor uses an ultrasonic hand-piece to break up the cataract into small pieces.  Then, the small pieces are suctioned out. 
  • Extracapsular Extraction (ECCE): Depending on the cataract and the circumstances, your doctor may need to remove your cataract in one piece. This option uses a larger incision.
  • Refractive Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery (ReLACS): This is the most advanced type of cataract removal.  Instead of incisions, your doctor will use a femtosecond laser to make the incisions.  The laser, called LenSx, will also soften and break up your cataract.  Then your doctor will use an ultrasonic hand-piece to any remove the cataract. 

Most patients are back to their normal activities and lifestyle the very next day.  The surgery does not require an overnight stay, the procedure itself takes around 30 minutes, and the whole process takes only one to two hours.  Usually, just one eye is done.  If you have cataracts in both eyes, your doctors may suggest waiting at least 1 to 2 weeks between each surgery. 

Custom Cataract Surgery – ORA

You can customize your cataract surgery with the ORA system.  The custom cataract surgery approach will provide a better quality of vision than your standard cataract surgery.  If you have some degree of astigmatism, then you may be a candidate for the ORA system.  Please click on the button below to read more about the benefits of the ORA system. 

The ORA system

Replacement Lens Options 

Once your doctor removes your old lens, a new lens is gently placed into your eye.  With technology and advances in medicine, there are now many different types of lenses to choose from.  With the right lens, you may greatly improve your vision and reduce your dependency on glasses.  In fact, many of our patients are able to see as well as they did during their youth.  At your cataract consultation, you and your doctor will discuss your lens option in detail so you can choose the right one for your lifestyle and vision goals. 

Please click on the button below to learn more about the different options available.

Cataract Lenses

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2100 Webster St, San Francisco, CA 94115