Frequently Asked Questions
What is a cataract?
A cataract is when the natural lens in your eyes becomes cloudy. This cloudiness is the proteins build up that build up in your eye over time. This protein growth is the cataract. The cataract prevents the light from entering into your eye. You may need cataract surgery when and if the cataract becomes mature.
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
Are there any ways to prevent cataracts?
Unfortunately there is no way to prevent cataracts from developing. However, a proper diet and sun protection you may slow the progression of cataracts. Some research shows that eating foods high in antioxidants like vitamins C and E may help prevent or slow their growth. As always, if you smoke, quit smoking! Smoking created more free radicals in your eyes. Radicals are toxic chemicals that harm the cells in your eyes.
Is there a cure for cataracts?
Surgery is the only way to cure cataracts. The doctor will remove your cloudy lens and replace the old clouded lens with a new one.
What are the different lens options?
There are 3 different types of lenses to choose from, monofocal, multifocal lens, multifocal toric lens.
What is a monofocal lens?
A monofocal lens offers a fixed focus for one distance. A multifocal lens has more than one point of focus. Cataract surgery may the opportunity to be less dependent on eye glasses. A multifocal lens can dramatically improve your vision. If you have trouble seeing things up close and far, then multifocal lens may be a good option.
What are the different multifocal lenses now available?
There are two different types of multifocal lenses currently available, bifocal diffractive IOLs, refractive IOLs, and extended depth of focus lens. Each of these lenses provides both distance and near vision, but each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Our technicians will administer a couple of different test to measure your eyes. Depending on the measurements and your lifestyle, you and your doctor will discuss and determine together which IOLs are best for you.
Will I see 20/20 after cataract surgery?
We hope so, but we can’t guarantee it. You are paying for the service and the implant, not a guaranteed result. If the eye is otherwise healthy, the vast majority of patients can achieve 20/20 vision with glasses or contact lenses.
Does the surgery take place in the office?
No, our doctors operate at the Eye Surgery Center of San Francisco and at California Pacific Medical Center. At Pacific Eye Associates, the doctors operate at the brand new surgery center and have access to state of the art machines.
How long is the surgery? Do I have to stay overnight?
No, cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure. This means that you do not have to stay overnight at the hospital. The surgery is about 30 minutes in length and then you’ll rest for about an hour at the facility. The nurses monitor your recovery and provide eyes drops upon discharge.
What happens during the procedure?
During the operation, your doctor will numb your eye area, and may give you a sedative to help you relax. Although you will be awake during the procedure, it most likely that you will not remember much of your surgery. Once you’re comfortable and the your doctor will break up the cataract into pieces using a tool that produces sound waves. The breaking up of the cataract is called phacoemulsification. The cataract pieces are then suctioned out and the new lens is placed in your eye.
Depending on how the cataract forms, an extracapsular extraction may be used. Extracapsular extraction technique is used when the cataract is best removed in one piece. This option requires a larger incision.
There’s also a refractive laser-assisted cataract surgery. Using the laser machine, the doctor will guide the laser machine to make the incisions and soften the cataract. The laser assisted option allows the surgery to make very precise incision in less time. However, it is important to note that studies have not shown that laser-assisted cataract surgery results in better visual outcomes than the traditional cataract surgery. However, using a laser instead of a scalpel may speed recovery time.
Will I need glasses after cataract surgery?
If you choose to receive a monofocal lens implanted in both eyes for distance vision, you will definitely need reading glasses after surgery. If you receive a multifocal lens there is a good chance you won’t need glasses. 80% of patients implanted with the diffractive and refractive lenses in their respective FDA clinical trials did not need glasses after surgery for distance or near vision. Of course, not every patient in the trial was spectacle independent. The odds of becoming free of spectacles are better if your corneal astigmatism is low and your eyes are healthy.
Can I be implanted with a multifocal lens in one eye only?
Yes, you can, as long as your other eye has a clear natural lens or an early cataract. If your other eye already has a monofocal implant, you may not realize the full benefit of the multifocal lens implant.
Will I need multifocal lenses in both eyes?
It is our current feeling that a multifocal lens should be implanted in both eyes ultimately to realize the full benefit of the technology. There are currently no studies demonstrating the advantages or disadvantages of combining accommodative, multifocal or monofocal lenses when surgery is performed in both eyes.
Will it take longer for my eye to recover from cataract surgery if I choose the monofocal lens?
Recovery from cataract surgery is the same whether you receive a monofocal lens or a multifocal lens. The number of appointments before and after surgery is also the same. The brain must adjust, however, to the new optical system created with the multifocal lens. This neural adaptation takes from weeks to months to occur. Patients typically notice that they become less aware of their vision as this neural adaptation takes place.
How long is the recovery time?
The recovery time varies from person to person, your eye will regain its sensation after a few hours post-surgery and recovery time may be anywhere between a few days to a few weeks. You’ll have a post-operative visit with your doctor the next day and continue to follow up with him or her until your eye has completely healed.
If you would like to learn more about Cataracts or would like to make an appointment with one of our cataract doctors, contact us today by requesting an appointment or call us: 415-923-3007.