Cataract Surgery in San Diego
Also Serving Oceanside, CA
Laser Cataract Surgery
FLACS (Femto Laser Assisted Cataract Surgery) The femtosecond laser is the newest technology available to assist with cataract surgery, allowing for increased precision and efficiency. The laser cuts tissue quickly and precisely and is performed just prior to the lens extraction. It is quick and painless. A suction device is utilized to stabilize the eye while the laser energy is applied, in just seconds. The laser can open the capsule, soften the cataract, and make very precise corneal incisions to correct astigmatism. It can be used as an adjunct with any surgery, but is best utilized for astigmatism correction, optimizing deluxe lens results, and for patients with Fuchs corneal dystrophy. Please ask about this leading-edge technology when you are ready for cataract surgery. Our office is committed to providing the best outcomes possible.
What Is a Cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye that leads to a decrease in vision. The lens is a clear organ made up of clear proteins and is responsible for focusing images on the retina, much like a camera lens focuses pictures on film.
Types of Cataracts
There are several different types of cataracts, including the following:
- Subcapsular or posterior cataracts develop in the back of the lens. They can develop rapidly, and symptoms appear quickly. People with diabetes or who take high doses of steroids are more likely to develop subcapsular cataracts.
- Nuclear cataracts develop in the central portion of the lens. They are the most common type of cataracts and are associated with advancing age, progressing slowly.
- Cortical cataracts develop at the outside edge of the lens and then shift to the center of the lens. They create tiny branches from the periphery of the lens toward the center, resembling the spokes of a wheel. Cortical cataracts are more common in people with diabetes.
San Diego Eye Care Center treats all types of cataracts.
Developing cataracts usually occurs slowly, due to the natural aging process, but can be congenital, caused by trauma, or medications. In the developing world, cataracts are very common due to poor nutrition. With time and environmental factors, such as smoking, poor nutrition, diabetes, eye surgery, chronic inflammation such as iritis, radiation, chemotherapy and UV-sunlight exposure, the clear lens turns cloudy. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world.
Certain behaviors are known risk factors for cataracts, and modifying these behaviors can help to prevent or delay the onset of cataracts. For example, not smoking or consuming excess alcohol is important. Shading your eyes from the sun’s UV rays by wearing sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats can also help. Avoiding steroid medications whenever necessary is wise. Keeping diabetes under control may stave off cataracts.
Another way to prevent or delay the development of cataracts is by eating a healthy diet with eye-friendly foods. (Teaser question: What food has been scientifically proven to slow down the clouding of the human lens? For the answer, click here.) Avoid processed foods, and look for foods packed with micronutrients and antioxidants. Scientific evidence shows that Vitamin C and E, as well as the nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin, can help protect the eyes from cataracts. You can find these nutrients in most colorful fruits and vegetables, almonds, pecans, vegetable oils, dark leafy greens and corn.
There are several factors known to raise the risk of cataracts that are largely out of your control. The primary risk factor is age. Family history, ethnicity (African Americans are at a slightly higher risk of cataracts) and sex (women are at a slightly higher risk) are other uncontrollable risk factors. To manage these risk factors, you should schedule yearly eye exams so your eye doctor can check for early signs of cataracts. Catching cataracts in their early stages is critical to saving your eyesight!
Cataracts tend to develop slowly and there may not be any noticeable signs or symptoms in the beginning stages. As cataracts progress and grow, you might experience any of the following symptoms:
- Clouded or blurry vision
- Decreased distance vision
- Double vision (seeing two images instead of one)
- Sensitivity to light
- Night time glare and halos
- Needing more light to reador perform other activities
- Frequent changes in eyeglass prescription
- Holding reading material closer
- Colors may not be as vivid (look faded or yellow instead)
Fortunately, cataracts can be completely treated with surgery. The natural cataract lens, which has become cloudy, is removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens. Surgery is done at a local ambulatory surgery center under topical anesthesia with IV sedation. The complication rate for this surgery is less than one percent, and most people return to normal activities within a few days.
Our doctors are currently using an exciting new technology for cataract removal called the femtosecond laser. The femtosecond laser assists in the cataract procedure with incisions, astigmatism correction and opening and softening of the cataract; it adds precision and safety to an already excellent surgery.
Over time, new technologies such as the femtosecond laser and advances in artificial lens implants have made cataract surgery a refractive surgery much like LASIK (i.e., correcting your vision and reducing dependence on eyewear). At the time of cataract surgery, other procedures can be performed simultaneously to eliminate or reduce astigmatism, presbyopia, nearsightedness and farsightedness.
During your vision consultation, the doctors will discuss which intraocular lens options and enhancements are available for your particular case. The doctor will help you make the best decision, taking into account your lifestyle demands and hobbies, as well as any other limitations.
Benefits of Cataract Removal
Better vision is the primary benefit of cataract removal. Colors look brighter and images look sharper. There may be less glare from the sun or from lights at night. Some people find they no longer need to wear glasses, or they are less dependent on glasses.
With better vision, many everyday activities become easier, including reading, driving, exercising and working on the computer. Patients usually become more independent and confident. They are less likely to suffer falls, fractures or similar accidents. They enjoy socializing and hobbies. Overall quality of life tends to improve. Some studies indicate that the visual improvement after cataract removal leads to a longer life expectancy.
With all these benefits … why wait?
We will conduct two pre-op appointments prior to surgery. This first visit includes pre-op testing, where we will measure your eye(s) precisely to determine the best lens for your needs. At the time of the second pre-op visit, a technician will go over the dos and don’ts for before/after your procedure, as well as evaluate your health, allergies, current medications and risk of possible reactions to anesthesia.
You will need a driver on the day of surgery and should not drive until after your doctor has cleared you at your first post-op visit. Follow-up visits are included in your surgery package and are important to ensure proper healing for the best visual outcome.
After surgery, you should be able to drive or read within a day or two. For the first week, you cannot get your eyes wet or rub them. For the first two nights following surgery, sleep with a shield over your eye to avoid inadvertently rubbing, bumping or pressing on it.
Contact San Diego Eye Care Center
To schedule a consultation to discuss your eye care needs, please contact our office at (760) 757-1144.