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What is a Cataract?

We live a significant portion of our lives with clear eye lenses that enable clear vision. As your eye begins to age, natural proteins in your eye start to clump together causing a clouding of the crystalline lens.

Cataracts gradually prevent light from reaching your retina, the back layer of your eye that processes images to send to the brain. Instead, the light that enters your eyes becomes scattered, blurred, and distorted, resulting in a gradual deterioration of your vision. When not properly treated, cataracts can lead to vision loss or even blindness.

Cataracts are the number one cause of vision loss in the world, but fortunately, cataract surgery is a common and safe treatment for successfully curing the condition.


Don’t Live with Cloudy Vision

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Types of Cataracts

  • Nuclear cataracts occur in the center of the lens
  • Cortical cataracts occur as wedge-shaped spokes extending from the outside of the lens to the center
  • Subcapsular cataracts occur at the back of the lens

Symptoms of Cataracts

  • Blurred or dimmed vision (particularly at night)
  • Cloudy vision
  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • Visual distortions or “ghost images”
  • Increased nearsightedness
  • Difficulty reading or driving

Causes of Cataracts

  • Age-related cataracts are the most common, resulting from a natural build-up of proteins in the lens.
  • Congenital cataracts may be present at birth or developed during childhood.
  • Secondary cataracts develop when other health or ophthalmologic conditions (such as diabetes) are present.
  • Traumatic cataracts can develop after an eye injury.

Cataract Vision Simulator

Tired of Blurry Vision?

Take our simple online self-test to find out if you are a candidate for cataract surgery.

Cataract self-test

Cataract Surgery at Pacific Eye Institute

Modern cataract surgery is much different from the cataract surgery of your grandparents! During the procedure, the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens. Today, cataract surgery involves small incision sizes, anesthesia improvements, improved antibiotics to prevent infection, advanced lens implants for visual clarity, and real-time lens calculations during surgery. All these combined technologies are life-changing for many patients and enable a great deal of lifestyle flexibility. In addition, this procedure no longer requires long hospital stays. It’s typically a 30-minute outpatient procedure we perform in our Ambulatory Surgery Center.

Choosing an Advanced Lens

You will be using your new eyesight every waking moment for the rest of your life. Our cataract surgeons will personally meet with you to discuss what lens would work best for your lifestyle.

Please take as much time as needed to consult with us, as well as your family. Our surgeons, technicians, and surgical liaisons are available to help you make the best decision.

Selecting the right type of lens implant for your eye is very important for your visual outcome. Special eye measurements will provide the data necessary for your surgeon to determine the implant power. Depending on eye history and current medical condition, we will have a unique lens recommendation. Additionally, our precise measurement equipment known as ORA can also be used to fine-tune the lens implant calculation.

Replacement Lens Options

After your cloudy lens is removed, a new intraocular lens (IOL) will be gently inserted into your eye. In the past, you only had one option for vision improvement: a monofocal IOL. These lenses are still available today, but many patients opt for lenses that can actually restore youthful vision (even correct the need for reading glasses). During cataract consultations, our team discusses your lens options in great detail so you can choose the right one for your lifestyle and vision goals.

Advanced technology lens implants and precise measurement combinations can offer a wide spectrum of vision improvement including near, intermediate and far vision. Imagine being able to read the newspaper, drive at night or play golf without the use of glasses*! At Pacific Eye Institute, enhanced, elite vision after cataract surgery is a possibility.

*Depending on the lens you choose, some patients may still require glasses after surgery. 

Single Distance Vision Package

  • Advanced diagnostic technology & testing

  • Extended pre-operative measurements, calculations, planning, and care

  • Toric lens technology (if necessary for astigmatism)

  • Post-operative laser enhancements (if necessary)

  • Extended aftercare for up to 180 days after surgery

Distance + Reading Monovision Package

  • Advanced diagnostic technology & testing

  • Extended pre-operative measurements, calculations, additional monovision testing, planning and care

  • Toric lens technology (if necessary for astigmatism)

  • Post-operative laser enhancements (if necessary)

  • Extended aftercare for up to 180 days after surgery

Distance + Reading Light Adjustable Lens Package

  • Advanced diagnostic technology & testing

  • Extended pre-operative measurements, calculations, additional monovision testing, planning and care

  • Multifocal or Accommodating lens technology

  • TECNIS Symfony IOL technology – the newest lens technology that offers a full range of quality vision and corrects astigmatism

  • Post-operative laser enhancements (if necessary)

  • Extended aftercare for up to 180 days after surgery

Distance + Reading Light Adjustable Lens Package

The Light Adjustable Lens (LAL) is the first lens that offers fine tuning, or adjustments, to the prescription after surgery. Following cataract surgery with this lens, our team can optimize the best prescription for you, for both distance and near vision. Generally, patients need between 2 and 5 adjustments before locking in their best vision. UV protective goggles are necessary to wear during all waking hours for up to 6 weeks until we can get the prescription locked in.

With a light adjustable lens, patients have the option of choosing to correct their vision at a variety of distances. These lenses can correct for nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), or both, by optimizing one eye for each. This highly customizable lens allows for patients to trial their preferred focal point correction before locking it in.

This package includes:

  • Advanced diagnostic testing
  • Astigmatism correction
  • Specialty Light Adjustable Lens
  • Light adjustment sessions
  • Post-operative laser enhancements (if necessary)
  • Extended aftercare for up to 180 days after surgery
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ORA Technology

Our doctors use Optiwave Refractive Analysis (ORA) technology during cataract surgery for some patients to ensure precise calculation for lens selection. This is a more precise measurement done during surgery, after the natural lens has been removed. With this more accurate measurement, your doctor can make real-time adjustments during the surgery to choose a more accurate lens based on the shape of your cornea and the length of your eye. This technology often improves vision results and reduces the need for follow-up treatments.

Cataract FAQs

Being diagnosed with a cataract does not mean you need surgery immediately. However, once cataracts affect your lifestyle or daily activities it may be time to have them removed. Cataracts do not go on their own so surgery is the only “cure” for a cataract.

There are many benefits to cataract surgery including improved quality of life, clearer vision, reduced risk of falls, and decreased mortality.

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According to the World Health Organization, cataracts affect approximately 65.2 million people and cause moderate to severe vision loss in over 80% cases. As populations age and average life expectancy continues to increase worldwide, the number of people with cataracts will continue to grow. The good news is cataract surgery is a cure for the condition.

Your eye will be numb during the surgery. While most patients might feel some pressure, it is not common for someone to describe the procedure itself as painful.

Yes: Once your cataract is removed, it is necessary to replace your natural lens with a new implant to get your best possible vision after surgery. At Pacific Eye Institute there are many advanced lens implant options available. We encourage you to ask our cataract consultants which would be best for your lifestyle! Watch a video to learn more about advanced lens implants (IOLS).

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Most patients can drive 24 hours after surgery. You can drive as soon as you feel comfortable – excluding immediately following your surgery. For your safety, our team will ask that someone drive you home the day of your surgery.

No: It’s important to be gentle around your eyes following cataract surgery. Rubbing your eyes can damage the surgical wound or result in injury to your cornea. If your eyes are uncomfortable, painful, or if your vision is not improving, please do not hesitate to call your Pacific Eye Institute Surgeon.

Most people notice a significant improvement in their vision and can resume everyday activities within 24 hours after cataract surgery. You can get back to your normal routine as soon as you feel comfortable, it’s your preference. Depending on which intraocular lens you have implanted, it can take between 2 to 6 months to completely adjust and for you to achieve your optimal vision. Because IOLs are made of durable material, they rarely need to be replaced.

No: You will not be put to sleep during cataract surgery, however, the anesthesiologist will be on-site and use a gentle I.V. known as “twilight”. Since cataract surgery is a very short procedure, often around 15 minutes, this allows for easy awakening and speedy recovery times.

Check out our blog: What Kind of Sedation is Used for Cataract Surgery?

Maybe: There are a variety of lens implant options to help lessen your dependence on glasses, but cataract surgery may not eliminate the use of eyeglasses. After a thorough examination, we will determine if you are a candidate for and of our advanced lens options – also known as premium lenses, and your surgeon will recommend a lens implant, or combination of lenses, which allow for the visual freedom you desire following cataract surgery.

Although cataract surgery is one of the safest surgeries performed today, and our expert surgeons do everything to minimize your risks of any complications, the American Academy of Ophthalmology takes the position that all surgery has risks.

The major risks of cataract surgery include, but are not limited to bleeding; infection; injury to parts of the eye and nearby structures from the anesthesia, the operation itself, or pieces of the lens that cannot be removed; high eye pressure; a detached retina, and a droopy eyelid. Learn more.


Learn more about financing options to pay for eye exams, vision tests, products and treatments for a variety of eye diseases, including cataracts.

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