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We no longer recommend surgery when a cataract is "ripe". Rather, the decision for surgery is based on when visual difficulties begin to interfere with normal activities of daily living, like driving, reading, work, or hobbies.
Cataract surgery is performed as a outpatient in our own ambulatory surgery center located in San Clemente, California, adjacent to our office. The nursing staff at our surgery center perform eye surgery exclusively, and are highly experienced in helping patients comfortably go through the steps of surgery.
Cataract surgery takes about ten minutes in the operating room. Most people are in our surgery center for about 90 minutes, including pre- and postoperative time.
Cataract surgery is performed with local anesthesia only. We provide intravenous medications to help patients fully relax. We also administer local medicines around the eye so patients don't feel or see anything during surgery.
Most people say that there is no pain during or after cataract surgery. Some may experience a scratchy sensation (like an eyelash in the eye) and mild soreness for about 24 hours after surgery. If necessary, you may take aspirin, Advil (ibuprofen), or Tylenol (acetaminophen). Stronger pain medicine is also available if necessary.
The cataract is removed during a ten-minute procedure. A small opening (less than 1/8 inch) is made in the front of the eye (the cornea) to allow the surgeon to dissolve the lens of the eye and remove it in tiny pieces. An artificial lens implant made of silicone or plastic is folded into a small package, then inserted into the eye and unfolded in the proper position. In this position, the new lens will remain permanently. It will never need maintenance or replacement. The new lens can be selected to correct nearsightedness or farsightedness. Premium lens implants are available to correct astigmatism or presbyopia.
After cataract surgery it is impossible for a cataract to return because the lens of the eye, where the cataract grows, has been completely removed. It is possible, however, for a cloudy film to grow on the lens capsule membrane that is located behind the lens implant. This occurs in about 40% of cataract surgery patients, usually many months or years after surgery, and is sometimes called a "secondary cataract". . Treatment of this film is simple and done with a laser as an outpatient procedure that involves no postoperative restrictions or downtime for most people.
With lens implant technology, our surgeons can choose to correct vision to achieve good uncorrected distance vision in both eyes. This allows most people to pass a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) test without glasses. In such a case, it would be necessary to wear reading glasses for fine print, though some large print reading may be possible without glasses.
Another option after surgery is monovision, where one eye is corrected for distance and the other for near vision. This option allows many people both to read and drive without corrective lenses, but affects depth perception. This option is usually most successful in people who have previously worn monovision contact lenses or who have had monovision LASIK.
Premium lens implants are another method of achieving good distance and reading vision after cataract surgery.
For the first four hours after surgery, an eye patch is placed on the healing eye and the effects of anesthesia will be wearing off. During this time we recommend restful activity. Eating, watching television, reading, and walking around the house are allowed. After the eye patch is removed, patients can begin administering their postoperative eye drops.
For the first few days after surgery, heavy lifting (more than 20 pounds) is not allowed, and we recommend avoiding eye makeup for one week. There are other restrictions as well after surgery. These are fully discussed with our doctors and counselors before surgery. For more information about restrictions after surgery, please contact us.
There are risks with every kind of surgery, and cataract surgery is no exception. The risk of severe complications, such as infection, severe bleeding during surgery, or retinal detachment are about 1 in 1000. Other, less severe complications of surgery may occur more frequently, as often as 1 in 100 times, and may include the need for additional surgery or prolonged recovery time with delayed visual improvement. This is not a complete list of risks that occur with surgery, and individual patients may have other risks based on existing medical or eye conditions. Our doctors have extensive experience performing cataract surgery in unusual circumstances and can fully discuss these risks during an office consultation.
As always, Harvard Eye is first and foremost concerned about what is best for each individual patient. Call us today for your personalized consultation!
Harvard Eye Associates
Laguna Hills Office
Map and Directions
24401 Calle de la Louisa
Laguna Hills, California 92653
Harvard Eye Associates
San Clemente Office
Map and Directions
665 Camino de los Mares
San Clemente, California 92673
The eye doctors of Harvard Eye Associates perform advanced technology diagnostic testing and treatment, as well as taking the time necessary to provide each patient with information needed to fully understand his or her condition and to achieve the best possible visual outcome.
If you or a family member or friend have not had a recent routine eye examination, have a specific eye condition that needs addressing, or are looking for an eye specialist, second opinion, or professional eye consultant please take a moment to Request an Appointment.
New techniques or improvements in a current technique are occasionally introduced to the medical world.
Harvard Eye Associates is a FDA clinical research study center for emerging technology. This great honor makes it possible for us to offer qualifying patients access to advancements in eye care not yet available to the general public.
Click below to see how you may benefit.
If you have questions about your eyes, Harvard Eye Associates is here with the information you need.
We've dedicated sections of our website expressly to list of Frequently Asked Questions and Answers, covering cataract surgery, glaucoma, retina, LASIK, macular degeneration, dry eyes and more, plus an online form where you may submit questions directly to an eye doctor.
Please click below to have your questions about vision answered.
Internationally regarded as the go-to specialist in eye care, Harvard Eye offers a combined experience of over 100 years and over 100,000 surgical procedures. The doctors of Harvard Eye Associates have treated virtually every known eye condition there is, plus a few previously unknown.
Whether you or a loved one are having a first eye exam, a repeat eye exam, or are seeing a new eye doctor at Harvard Eye for the first time, there are a number of routine questions you can expect.
Your answers to these questions during eye exams are anything but routine for your eye doctor, so you may want to arrive prepared.
Read testimonials and watch videos of actual Harvard Eye Associates patients who have benefited from our professionalism, dedication, and commitment to high quality patient care.
Our offices provide patients with all eye care needs from routine eye exams to complex surgical procedures.
We are both proud and grateful that our patients have chosen to trust their vision with Harvard Eye!
Volunteer work is extremely important to Harvard Eye Associates. Twice yearly, we travel the world to teach and perform surgery to people who have no other resources, and have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to providing medical training and supplies to developing countries.