What are they?
Cataracts are a cloudiness that develops within the eye’s natural lens. Vision becomes increasingly blurry and dim. Cataracts usually progress slowly, and it may be several years before they seriously affect vision.
Where is my lens located?
About the size of an aspirin, your eye’s lens is located directly behind the pupil—the dark center of the eye. The lens is made of clear gel-like material covered by a thin, transparent capsule—like a plastic bag. The lens helps focus light rays entering the eye.
What causes cataracts?
Cataracts are most often the result of a chemical breakdown that simply happens over time. By age 65, 90% of people have cataracts—although they may not notice decreased vision right away. Cataracts can also form as the result of an eye injury, birth defect, disease, radiation, use of certain medications and exposure to some toxic chemicals.
Can they be prevented?
No. But wearing proper sunglasses, eating a healthy diet, and not smoking may delay cataracts and slow their progression.
How are cataracts diagnosed?
During a routine eye exam, your optometric physician will usually see cloudiness beginning to form within the lens—even before you notice any changes in vision. When cataracts begin to interfere with daily life, your eye doctor will discuss the option of surgical correction.
Is surgery the only Option?
As a cataract begins to develop, the eye can become nearsighted. Prescription changes in your glasses may help until the cataract worsens. Then, if you want good clear vision again, the only option is surgery to remove and replace the lens.
How do I know when to have surgery?
Surgery is recommended when decreased vision from a cataract causes daily frustration and is no longer working for you. Your optometric physician can help you decide when the time is right.
Do cataracts need to be mature?
No. Years ago, people were encouraged to wait for surgery until their cataracts were fully developed. Today, it’s considered easier on the eye and better for vision to remove cataracts earlier instead of later.
How safe is surgery?
Cataract surgery is considered one of the safest surgeries. Our surgeons successfully improve vision for more than 99% of patients.
How do I know if surgery will restore my vision?
Exams and tests before surgery will provide a good idea of what your vision may be like after treatment. If your eyes are healthy, cataract surgery will likely restore good vision. However, if you have retinal problems or other eye conditions, treatment may only improve your vision, not restore it.
How does surgery work?
The eye’s clouded lens is gently removed with ultrasound technology and replaced with an artificial lens implant. With our surgeons’ skill and experience, the procedure usually takes less than 20 minutes.
Can I have surgery if I have diabetes or glaucoma?
Yes. If diabetes is controlled, surgery usually isn’t a problem. If you have glaucoma, an extra procedure can sometimes be done during cataract surgery to help control your condition.
Is surgery done on both eyes at the same time?
No. If you need surgery in both eyes, treatment will be scheduled at different times. The treated eye will be closed for a few hours after surgery, and we want you to be able to see with the other eye.
What if I decide to live with my cataracts?
Some people live with cataracts for years. As their vision dims, they adjust their lifestyles and stop doing certain things. If you choose to put up with decreased vision, you may need to:
How long does Surgery Take?
Although the actual procedure usually takes less than 20 minutes, please plan to be in our office for at least an hour and a half.
What can I expect before surgery?
You may have had a recent eye exam by your family eye doctor. But before surgery, one of our doctors will dilate and examine your eye to evaluate its health and readiness for the procedure. Several tests will also help us estimate what your vision may be like after surgery and determine which lens implant may best meet your needs.
Can family or friends watch my surgery?
Before COVID-19, family or friends could be close by in a comfortable viewing room separated from the surgery suite by a glass wall. A hostess explained to them what was happening as the surgery was magnified on a TV monitor. We look forward to being able to offer this again when the virus is under control.
Will I need to stop my regular medications?
No. Most people do not need to stop any of the medications they’re already taking for other conditions. We’ll tell you if a change is needed.
Can I eat before surgery?
Yes. We encourage you to eat a light breakfast or lunch before the procedure.
Can I wear make-up and hairspray?
Since the area around your eye will be carefully wiped with a sterile solution, we ask that you not wear eye make-up the day of treatment. You may use hairspray.
What should I wear?
Wear clean, comfortable street clothing.
Will I be put to sleep?
No. Before surgery, the eye is numbed with anesthetic--either by injection in the tissue around the eye or topical anesthetic eye drops. While some discomfort is possible, our skilled providers are usually successful in keeping it to a minimum.
Can I have something to help me relax?
If you’re particularly nervous or anxious, our nurse can give you medication to help you relax. But most people don’t need anything.
What happens after my eye is immobilized?
After relaxing a few minutes, you’ll walk into the surgery suite and sit in a reclining chair. The area around your eye will be draped for surgery and a natural tear-like solution will be gently placed on your eye to keep it from drying out during the procedure.
What if I have to cough or sneeze?
Kindly tell the surgeon so he or she can be prepared. If you have a ticklish throat, tell the nurse before your treatment. She or he can give you something to suppress your cough.
What will I see, hear and feel?
Your face and unoperated eye will be covered, so you’ll only see the bright light of the microscope, and glimpse hand movements and shadows during surgery. You’ll hear the hum of the ultrasound instrument and may feel the surgeon’s hands resting on your forehead.
What’s a lens implant?
It’s a tiny artificial lens that’s carefully positioned inside the eye to replace the clouded lens, which is removed in cataract surgery. Lens implants are made in a large range of focusing powers to fit each person’s eye.
Why do I need an implant?
Cataract surgery removes your eye’s natural lens, which accounts for about 40% of the eye’s focusing power. Without a replacement lens, you would be virtually blind and would see only light and shadows. The lens implant replaces the focusing power of your original lens—as well as much of the correction in your glasses.
Does everyone get the same kind of lens implant?
No. We offer several options to fit different lifestyles:
Can lens implants correct astigmatism?
Yes. Special implants are available to correct astigmatism. Other surgery options are also available.
Do implants protect against ultraviolet rays?
Yes. Lens implants provide UV protection from potentially damaging sunlight.
Will I wear an eye patch?
No. Your eyelid is simply taped closed for several hours until the anesthesia wears off. This prevents your eye from opening and getting dry until you’re able to blink again.
What happens after surgery?
You’ll be able to walk out of the surgical suite. After relaxing for a few minutes and getting instructions from our staff, you can go home. There may be some mild discomfort or a little achy feeling.
When will I be able to see?
Vision after cataract surgery varies from person to person and even from one eye to the other. Soon after your operation, you may see noticeable improvement or your vision may be fuzzy. Both can be normal. Because it takes time for the eye to heal, it could be a few days before your vision clears.
How soon can I drive?
It’s not safe to drive home after surgery. Also, if you’re scheduled for a follow-up examination the next day, plan to have someone drive you. You may drive as soon as you’re able to see clearly and are comfortable with your new vision.
When can I resume other normal activities?
You’ll want to take things a little easy for a day or two. But you may resume most normal activities as soon as your eye is open and working well. You can bend over and exercise, but avoid such strenuous activities as heavy lifting (25 lbs. or more) or high-impact exercise for perhaps five to seven days.
Is there anything I shouldn’t do after surgery?
Yes. There are a few things that we’ll ask you to avoid for a week, including rubbing your eye, swimming, hot tubs and water sports.
When will I need to see the doctor?
After-surgery care can vary, but follow-up exams are typically scheduled:
What’s involved in my follow-up care?
It’s very important that you keep all your follow-up appointments. During these visits, the doctor will check your eyes to make sure they’re working properly and that there’s no sign of infection. When your eye has healed and stabilized, your optometric physician will prescribe a new lens for your glasses, if necessary.
How soon can I have my second eye done?
If there are no other eye problems, cataract surgery for the second eye can be scheduled within a week or so of the first eye—and sometimes sooner.
Can my cataract come back?
No. However, in the months and years after surgery, up to 35% of patients have some reduction in vision as cells grow across the back of the clear capsular bag that holds the lens implant. Vision becomes fuzzy and dim much like it was with a cataract. This cloudiness is sometimes called a secondary cataract because symptoms mimic those of cataracts. The condition is easily treated with a laser. In one short office visit, painless bursts of laser light create a small opening in the cloudy capsule to restore clear vision.
Cost and Payment Options
WHAT IS THE COST?
Our fee for cataract surgery without insurance coverage and with a standard lens implant is approximately $4000 per eye. We’re happy to give you an estimate. Once you are scheduled for surgery, we will verify your insurance coverage.
ARE SOME LENS IMPLANTS NOT COVERED BY INSURANCE?
Yes. If you wish to use glasses as little as possible, and choose a type of lens implant designed to do this, there is an extra cost that is not covered by insurance.
ARE YOUR FEES HIGHER THAN MOST?
No. Our fees are lower than many providers and facilities. The price of cataract surgery often differs a lot, even within the same community. Fees can vary by more than 300% depending on the type of facility. Hospital outpatient departments are usually the most expensive. Free-standing eye surgery centers (like ours) are usually the least expensive.
WHAT ARE MY PAYMENT OPTIONS?
We are happy to bill your insurance. For uncovered services, we accept cash, checks and all major credit cards including Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express and CareCredit.
CAN I MAKE MONTHLY PAYMENTS?
Yes, based on approved credit, payments can be made over 6 months with no interest. If you need more time, monthly payments with longer terms are available through CareCredit. Click here to apply or call CareCredit at 800-365-8295 at least a week before surgery. When asked for the business name or doctor's last name, enter or say Pacific Cataract and Laser Institute.
I’ve been in the medical profession for years and have never felt so privileged to be treated by such a professional team.
— Robbie from Tacoma, WA