Cataract FAQ

     What is a cataract?

A cataract is a cloudiness that develops in the lens of the eye that causes vision to become dim, blurry, and distorted. A cataract is a change inside the eye and is not a growth over the eye. Cataracts usually develop slowly and take several years before significantly affecting a person’s vision. Cataracts are primarily due to aging.

◦     Are older people the only ones who get cataracts?

No. Cataracts can develop at any age, including newborns, but the most common cause of cataracts is aging. Everyone, if they live long enough, will eventually develop cataracts.

◦     Can cataracts be prevented?

Unfortunately, there is no known way to prevent cataract formation. However, protecting your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays and eating a healthy diet may slightly delay cataract formation.

◦     Are cataracts harmful to my eyes?

No. They are not dangerous unless they become “mature”, turn completely white, and cause intraocular inflammation. In this advanced stage, cataracts should be removed as soon as possible.

◦     Do cataracts need to be ripe before they are removed?

No. This is archaic terminology and does not reflect the needs of the patient. Instead, it only refers to the way a cataract looks under the slit lamp microscope. Cataracts should be removed when they significantly interfere with a person’s vision or a person’s ability to do the things they want or need to do.

◦     Can surgery be done on both eyes at the same time?

If you require surgery in both eyes, treatment will typically be scheduled one to two weeks apart. This allows you to see out of one eye while the other eye is recovering from surgery. There are also some safety reasons for doing this.

◦     Does cataract surgery hurt?

No. Your eye will be numb, but you may feel some very slight pressure once or twice during the surgery. In addition, patients receive an IV with relaxing medication to eliminate the anxiety that frequently is associated with surgery.

◦     How long will cataract surgery take?

With the skill and experience of our surgeons, cataract surgery usually takes less than 10 minutes. However, the denser and harder the cataract, the longer it takes to remove.

◦     Why do I need an implant in my eye?

Cataract surgery removes your eye’s natural lens, which is responsible for a significant amount of the eye’s focusing ability. Without a replacement lens, a person would see very poorly or would need extremely thick glasses to see.

◦     Can lens implants correct astigmatism?

Yes. Special lens implants are available that can compensate for this condition. Surgery options may also be available to reshape the surface of the eye.

◦     What are multi-focal implants?

Unlike standard single focus implants, multi-focal lens implants offer the possibility of seeing well at distance, intermediate, and near ranges without glasses.

◦     Will I feel the lens implant inside my eye?

No. There are no nerve cells in the capsule where the lens is implanted, so you will not feel it.

◦     Will the implant ever need to be cleaned, removed, or replaced?

No. Once the lens implant is inside your eye, it does not need to be maintained. In the rare instance that there is a problem, it can be removed, re-positioned, or replaced.

◦     Do cataracts come back?

No. Once a cataract has been removed, it will never come back. However, in the months and years after surgery, 15 -20% of patients can experience some cloudiness of the capsular bag that holds the lens implant. If this affects vision, a quick, painless procedure can be done to clear the cloudy capsule.


     Why is LASIK so popular?

Although it is a technically demanding procedure, patients achieve excellent visual results over a wide range of optical corrections. Patients love the procedure because they experience minimal discomfort, rapid recovery, and the improvements in vision are dramatic.

◦     What are the chances that my vision will be worse after refractive surgery?

There is always a chance that surgery can have complications. The chance of losing more than 2 lines of vision on the eye chart is less than 1%, but it still has to be factored into your decision.

◦     Can you guarantee 20/20 vision with refractive surgery?

No. No surgery can ever be guaranteed. A realistic expectation is to reduce your dependence on glasses and contact lenses.

◦     How much does the surgeon’s skill have to do with good results?

Some people mistakenly assume that with the high technology instruments used for refractive surgery that the surgeon’s role in achieving superb outcomes is minimal. This is not the case. The surgeon’s skill and judgement are the most critical factors in achieving excellent visual results. Also, the surgeon’s experience and expertise become even more crucial in the occurrence of an intra-operative complication. Although the equipment is highly sophisticated, the surgeon is directly involved in positioning the instruments and aligning the patient’s eye under the laser. We have learned that the accuracy and attention to numerous small details, controlled directly by the surgeon, are the key to achieving excellent outcomes.

◦     How many patients require enhancements after refractive surgery?

This primarily depends on the amount of refractive error present prior to surgery. Patients with higher amounts of correction are more likely to require an enhancement than those with low to moderate amounts of correction. However, for most patients, there is about a 5-10% chance of needing an enhancement.

◦     Can I make monthly payments?

Yes, we offer flexible monthly payment plans with excellent terms. For more details, visit our financing page here or call our office at (530) 895-1727

◦     Will your doctors do all my follow up care?

Our doctors are involved in all the pre-operative and post-operative care. We do not believe it is right to pass you on to another eye care provider until we are certain your eyes are healing properly.

◦     Does refractive surgery hurt?

No. Your eyes will be numbed with anesthetic eye drops. However, you will feel a mild pressure sensation for a few seconds during the procedure.

◦     How will I keep my eyes from moving during surgery?

There are several methods used to minimize and compensate for this. First of all, there will be a reddish-orange target light you will look at throughout the procedure. More importantly, the LASIK laser has an eye tracking system that monitors any intra-operative eye movements and centers the laser treatment even if you move your eyes.

◦     How long does the treatment take?

Patients will be in the laser suite for less than 15 minutes, but the laser treatment time usually lasts less than one minute.

◦     How will I keep my eyes open during surgery?

Your surgeon will insert a small instrument under and around the eyelids to prevent you from blinking during the surgery.

◦     How long is the visual recovery period?

This varies since each person heals at a different rate. Most people experience noticeable fluctuations for the first 1 to 5 days. Additional minor variations in vision continue for another 2 to 4 weeks after surgery. Achieving final vision can take up to 3 to 4 months.

◦     How secure is the flap after surgery?

When the flap is made, it is so precise that it fits back into place much like a jigsaw puzzle piece. In addition, the inner layer of the cornea pumps fluid out of the cornea creating a small vacuum. Furthermore, the superficial layer of the cornea grows over the edge of the flap and begins to secure it in place within several hours of the procedure.

◦     If I am corrected for distance vision, will I be able to see up close?

This mostly depends on your age. Patients over 40 will almost certainly need some type of assistance in seeing things up close after surgery. This is due to a condition called presbyopia. Even if you can see well up close before surgery by removing your glasses or contacts, if you are over 40 years old you will need reading correction to see things up close after refractive surgery. Monovision correction is one way to lessen this.

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