Cataract Surgery San Antonio
Cataract Surgery in San Antonio
Cataract Surgery in San Antonio and in the United States is one of the most common medical procedures. Why is cataract surgery so common? Because cataracts are a part of the aging process that affects everyone as we grow older. By the age of 65 over 90% of Americans have been found to have a cataract.1
Cataracts are not preventable, but they are treatable. We know that the blurry vision caused by cataracts can be frustrating, but the good news is that cataract surgery has an extremely high success rate.2
At Parkhurst NuVision, our San Antonio cataract surgery team is dedicated to helping you see better. In fact, with modern laser cataract surgery technology and vision correcting lens solutions, many of our patients achieve the best vision of their lives after cataract surgery!
“In about 7 minutes Dr. Parkhurst removed my cataract and gave me 20/20 vision in an eye that had never seen that well ever before. Zero pain, zero complications. The doctor and his team were 100% focused on my comfort, care and recovery.”
What are Cataracts?
Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s natural lens. When learning the facts about cataracts, it can be helpful to have a basic understanding of the anatomy of your eye. Inside of your eye is a natural lens, situated behind the colored part of your eye called the iris, which is also behind the front window of the eye known as the cornea. The inside lens of your eye has the approximate size and shape of an M&M candy, and its job is to focus light onto the retina, at the back of the eye. This is a crucial part of how your eye creates vision.
As you age, the proteins that make up your eye’s lens will “denature” and break down. For many people, this begins at around 50 years old. The once-clear lens will begin to stiffen and cloud as proteins clump up—this cataract formation results in blurry vision and other vision impairments such as fading of colors, and difficulty seeing at night. As cataracts progress and vision worsens with increased clouding of the lens, everyday tasks like reading and driving become more and more difficult. If you’ve ever noticed how the plastic covering on headlights of a car tend to fade and fog up due to exposure to the elements and the sun, this is very similar to how the natural eye lens proteins denature over time, resulting in cataracts that cause your once clear vision to go blurry with age.
What Causes Cataracts?
Cataracts are a naturally occurring part of the aging process. According to the National Eye Institute, over 20 million Americans over the age of 40 have cataracts.3 While they are as much a part of getting older as gray hair or fine lines, there are some things that may make you more susceptible to getting cataracts at an earlier age.
Risk Factors for Cataracts
Some genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that may increase your risk of cataracts include:4
- Excessive exposure to sunlight
- Traumatic eye injuries
- Cigarette smoking
- Frequent alcohol use
- Certain diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes or Hypertension
- A family history of cataracts or other eye conditions, such as glaucoma
- Regular use of certain medications such as corticosteroids (orally or as a nasal spray)
Types of Cataracts
The large majority of cataracts are age-related and occur in people over the age of 60, but they can occasionally develop in younger people who have had an eye injury or other risk factors. In rare cases, a child may be born with congenital cataracts, which is often diagnosed by a pediatric ophthalmologist.
Eye doctors classify cataracts according to which part of the natural eye lens loses its clarity:
- Nuclear cataracts develop in the center of the lens, similar to the nucleus in the middle of the cells you learned about in biology class
- Posterior Subcapsular cataracts develop at the back of the lens
Cortical cataracts develop at the edges of the lens and often look like white spokes of a snowflake
Symptoms of Cataracts
Age-related cataracts are progressive, which means that they have a gradual worsening effect on vision and eye health. Patients with cataracts may not experience any symptoms at first, and cataracts may progress slowly or quickly, but eventually they will interfere with vision, and in certain cases may cause other damage to the eye. Symptoms may include:
- Vision that is clouded or blurry (***sometimes people attempt to clean their glasses to remove the smudges, but unfortunately that doesn’t work because the cloudiness is on the inside of the eye***)
- Difficulty with night vision
- Trouble seeing in the dark
- Sensitivity to light
- A “Halo” around lights
- Colors appear dull or yellowed
- Glasses seem less effective or don’t work at all
Treatment for Cataracts
Patients with early stage cataracts may be able to resolve their symptoms by changing their eyeglass prescription, or using brighter light to read, but this is a temporary and short-term solution because eventually cataracts will get worse and need to be removed. There is no medication to treat or prevent cataracts. Eye surgery to remove cataracts is the only effective treatment. Luckily, cataract removal surgery is the single most commonly performed procedure in the United States. It is an extremely effective surgery with a complication rate of less than 1%.5
How Does Cataract Surgery Work?
Cataracts are a change in the proteins of the lens of the eye, which causes a loss of clarity. Think of the eye like a camera—the lens needs to be clear in order to get a good picture. Similarly, in a healthy eye the lens refracts light and helps it focus on the retina in order to create clear vision. In an eye with cataracts, protein builds up on the lens, preventing light from passing through normally. In cataract surgery, the eye’s clouded lens is replaced with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens or IOL that is once again clear.
Laser Cataract Surgery
Our eye doctors work hard to stay on the forefront of vision technology. We offer a range of cataract surgery treatments, including laser cataract surgery. Laser cataract surgery is considered by many to be a less invasive method of removing the cloudy lens that is gentler on the eye with more consistently accurate results.6
In 2014, Parkhurst NuVision was designated as the first LENSAR Cataract Center of Excellence in the United States.
Our cataract surgeons use the highly advanced LENSAR platform, which enables us to conduct surgery with up to 10x the accuracy of basic manual cataract surgery with 3D eye imaging, laser-precise micro-incisions, and easy lens removal and replacement. Our Medical Director and Founder of Parkhurst NuVision, Dr. Gregory Parkhurst, performed the first LENSAR laser cataract procedure in San Antonio. Along with LENSAR, we use diagnostic scanning technology during the procedure, which allows us to confirm the placement of the new lens and control your visual outcomes to the highest degree of accuracy!
I opted for the laser cataract surgery and now my eyes are 20/20 and 20/15 overnight! I’m very happy with the results! It’s amazing how bright everything is now, how clear it is, and all this with no pain! The staff is extremely friendly and helpful and I would recommend NuVision to anyone. The surgery was very easy, very little discomfort, very safe! I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
IOLs available for Cataract Surgery
Parkhurst NuVision offers the widest variety of IOL solutions that are available in San Antonio. If you have always struggled with vision problems, such as nearsightedness or astigmatism, cataract surgery with a vision correcting IOL is a unique opportunity to permanently address multiple vision issues at once. The right IOL can even eliminate your need for glasses! In addition to basic IOLs known as monofocal lenses that correct vision at a single distance, we offer multifocal and trifocal IOLs to improve vision at a full range, so you can see from near to far seamlessly, often without the need for any glasses including reading glasses. Every eye is different, so even people who have been told they don’t qualify for multifocal IOLs in the past now have options to have complete vision. These include lenses such as accommodating IOLs, and light adjustable lenses. Our cataract doctors will determine which type of IOL will best fit your life and vision needs.
What to Expect from Your Cataract Surgery in San Antonio
Getting Ready for Cataract Surgery in San Antonio
Once your optometrist and/or your ophthalmologist has confirmed your cataract diagnosis, they will walk you through the process of cataract surgery, including explaining which IOLs fit your eyes best and will accomplish the goals you have regarding how you want to see after cataract surgery, and when you should expect to wear glasses after surgery, if at all. Once you and your eye doctor select the IOL that is best for you, you’ll receive detailed pre-procedure instructions.
This is an exciting day for many patients! After struggling with the effects of cataracts, you are about to have clear vision restored. Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure. We will make sure you are comfortable and answer any last minute questions. We will then numb your eyes with anesthetic drops. Your surgeon will make a very small opening in order to remove the clouded lens and replace it with your new lens. The entire surgery is fairly quick and typically no stitches are needed.
Recovery After Cataract Surgery
At Parkhurst NuVision in San Antonio, we work very hard to provide a detailed explanation of what to expect in cataract surgery recovery. There are minimal restrictions, even immediately after cataract surgery. You will be using antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops for a few weeks to aid in the healing process. Standard post-op visits are 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, and 1 year. Patients are required to have a driver take them home on the day of surgery and sometimes to drive them to their one-day post-op visit. Patients can usually return to work within a day or so after the first post-op visit.
Cataract Surgery Results
You will likely notice a dramatic improvement in vision within the first couple days. Your initial results and healing time will depend on the severity of your cataract before the surgery, as well as the type of IOL you have. Our patients who choose advanced lenses often tell us that their overall quality of life has been vastly improved by their newly clear vision.
I couldn’t be happier with my decision. Immediately the new lenses made an amazing difference. I hadn’t realized just how cloudy and dimmer my cataracts were making my vision. The best part is my distance and mid-range vision is now better than 20/20 in each eye… This surgery at this practice has turned out to be the best choice I could have made.
San Antonio Cataract Specialists
At Parkhurst NuVision, we are passionate about providing customized vision correction solutions for everyone, at every stage of life. Just as you might categorize your life according to different milestones, we think of your vision in terms of milestones too. Cataracts are the hallmark of the third vision milestone, which typically encompasses your 60’s and beyond. Our San Antonio cataract surgeons are experts in custom cataract solutions that can restore your vision and even make it better than it was before cataracts. Your cataracts do not have to limit your life, or keep you from doing the things you love!
Frequently Asked Questions About Cataracts and Cataract Surgery
How are cataracts diagnosed?
Your optometrist, ophthalmologist, or regular eye care provider can diagnose cataracts at your annual eye exam. They will refer you to an experienced cataract surgeon, such as those here at Parkhurst NuVision, in order to be evaluated for cataract surgery.
What happens if cataracts are left untreated?
Without cataract surgery, cataracts will continue to worsen over time. Patients with untreated cataracts will experience increasing vision problems that will make it difficult to complete daily activities and can eventually result in complete vision loss.
Are there any other, non-surgical treatment options for cataracts?
Cataract surgery is the only effective treatment for cataracts. In the early stages of cataracts, you may be able to manage your vision by using brighter lights or stronger prescription glasses, but eventually surgery will be needed to remove the cataracts.
Does health insurance or Medicare pay for cataract surgery?
If your cataract surgery is deemed medically necessary, Medicare and other health insurance plans will typically cover basic cataract surgery with a monofocal IOL. Premium IOLs or laser astigmatism treatment are an additional cost on top of what insurance pays.
What are the risks of cataract surgery?
Cataract removal is one of the safest surgeries performed on the human body, and it is typically a routine eye surgery. With that said, all medical procedures carry some risk of side effects or complications, and cataract surgery is no exception to that. Thankfully when cataract surgery complications do occur, they tend to be mild and treatable. The most common risks of cataract surgery include temporary swelling and inflammation, temporary increased eye pressure, the need for additional treatment, eye infection, or visual glares and halos around lights in the dark.8
Can cataracts grow back?
No, but occasionally, a patient may experience blurry vision following cataract surgery and believe this is the cataract returning. This mild condition is called posterior capsular opacification (PCO), and is sometimes referred to as a “secondary cataract”. A simple in-office procedure called a YAG capsulotomy can correct this issue.
Can I prevent cataracts?
Age-related cataracts cannot be prevented, but there are steps you can take to care for your overall eye health. Eating a healthy diet rich in vitamins and antioxidants, and wearing sunglasses that protect against ultraviolet rays may slow the progression of cataracts.7 It is important to see your eye doctor regularly to monitor your vision and get early treatment for any eye problems.
How do I know if I need cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery should be done when the cataract becomes cloudy and starts to impair vision. The decision to undergo cataract surgery is one that needs to be made with your eye doctor and an experienced cataract surgeon. Sometimes, an eye doctor may suggest waiting for surgery. However, considering the benefits of this procedure, most of our patients make the decision to have surgery once they have been diagnosed related to symptoms they are having due to blurry vision.
Will I be awake for cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery is a routine procedure that typically takes about 15 minutes or less. Your eyes will be numbed with anesthetic eye drops and you will be provided a sedative to help you feel comfortable and relaxed. Being “put to sleep” with general sedation is unnecessary for most patients, so the most common form of anesthesia for cataract surgery is to have “twilight” sedation, similar to what people have during a colonoscopy or wisdom tooth extraction.
How much does cataract surgery cost?
At Parkhurst NuVision, we believe that everyone should have the best vision possible. We offer payment plans for qualified patients that can help you afford the IOL you need. Since cataract surgery is customized for you, pricing will vary depending on your treatment plan. Our patient care team will explain all the costs, including what may or may not be covered by insurance, and direct you to payment options and financing plans that will work for you.
Will I need glasses after cataract surgery?
This depends on several factors, including pre existing eye conditions and the type of IOL and type of cataract surgery you choose. Most people who have cataract surgery at Parkhurst NuVision choose to have laser cataract surgery with a vision correcting IOL to help reduce or even eliminate the need for glasses after cataract surgery. Some patients will choose to have their distance vision corrected, and will still need simple reading glasses to see up close. Talk to your doctor to learn more about what you can expect for your individual treatment plan.
Contact Parkhurst NuVision
Clear, crisp vision is one of the most important things you need to enjoy your life to the fullest. The cataract doctors at Parkhurst NuVision can help you get it. Contact us with any questions about cataract surgery or to schedule your consultation appointment today.
1 University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center. Cataract. Available: https://www.umkelloggeye.org/conditions-treatments/cataract Accessed January 10, 2021.
2 Mayo Clinic. Cataract Surgery. Available: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cataract-surgery/about/pac-20384765. Accessed December 14, 2021
3 National Eye Institute. Cataract Data and Statistics Available: https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/outreach-campaigns-and-resources/eye-health-data-and-statistics/cataract-data-and-statistics Accessed December 15, 2021
4 American Academy of Ophthalmology. Cataracts. Available: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-are-cataracts#symptoms Accessed December 15, 2021.
5 Refractive Surgery Council. Cataract Surgery Available: https://americanrefractivesurgerycouncil.org/cataract-surgery/ Accessed December 15, 2021.
6 American Academy of Ophthalmology. Traditional Cataract Surgery vs. Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery. Available: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/traditional-vs-laser-assisted-cataract-surgery Accessed December 14, 2021
7 Mayo Clinic. Cataracts. Available: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cataracts/symptoms-causes/syc-20353790 Accessed June 30, 2021
8 Cleveland Clinic. Cataract Surgery. Available: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/21472-cataract-surgery#risks–benefits Accessed December 14, 2021.
Dr. Gregory Parkhurst has either authored or reviewed and approved this content.