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Ask the Doctor: Eran Duzman, M.D.

Q. I think I may be developing cataracts. What are the symptoms and what treatment options are available?

A. Cataracts are a very common condition that some people develop as they age. A cataract is the formation of haze in the natural lens of the eye. This hazy interferes with light focusing into the eye. Symptoms are subtle as most patients experience a slow change in vision over time. Changes can include blurry or cloudy vision and sensitivity to light and glare, and difficulty with vision at night. Many patients adapt to these symptoms and usually don’t complain about them unless their physician asks the proper questions for a diagnosis. Many patients think that the changes in vision are just "part of aging" and fail to mention them at the time of their physicals. Ophthalmologists have very effective treatments for these vision issues and people do not have to suffer visual constraints that can limit their daily activities.

Cataracts are a very treatable condition and there are many options based on a patient’s needs and lifestyle. There are self-care measures patients can take, such as making sure your eyeglasses or contact lenses are the most accurate prescription, improving the lighting in your home or work area, wearing sunglasses or a broad-brimmed hat when outdoors to reduce glare, and limiting your night driving.

If your cataracts are affecting your quality of life or interfering with your ability to perform normal daily activities, cataract surgery may be right for you. Surgery can be completed both traditionally (by hand), or with the aid of a sophisticated laser that allows for more precise surgical results. In both cases, cataract surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that replaces the hazy lens with an implanted lens to restore vision. Local anesthetic is provided and most patients don’t require any additional medications, only topical. Patients are awake during the procedure and are provided a very light sedative to help patients relax. The procedure is pain free and takes approximately 15 minutes to complete after which patients are discharged home. If you need surgery in both eyes, your physician will schedule each surgery separately.

There are several lens options for cataract surgery including Monofocal lenses, Torric lenses for Astigmatism Correction, and Multifocal lenses for clear distance and close reading. Within the monofocal option, your physician can set one eye for near and the fellow eye for distance. This may allow patients to be less dependent on glasses after surgery. A Toric lens corrects astigmatism and sharpens distance vision but patients will still require reading correction after surgery. Multifocal lenses have multiple lenses within the implant. This is ideal for patients seeking the most freedom from glasses. More than 80 percent of patients who receive multifocal lens replacement in both eyes do not need glasses. Your doctor should discuss these options with you during a consultation prior to cataract surgery. There are several factors in considering which lens will be right for an individual.

Overall, cataract surgery is a highly successful procedure that can restore clear vision. If you have been recently diagnosed with or think you may have cataracts, it is important to schedule a consultation with your ophthalmologist to discuss the best treatment options for you.

Eran Duzman, M.D., has been in practice in Irvine for 20 years, and has served as the Chairmen of the Department of Ophthalmology at Hoag for four years. Dr. Duzman welcomes new patients and is a preferred provider for most insurance plans.