Kaiser Permanente Laser Vision Correction
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Cataract FAQs

When you’re well-informed about a medical procedure, you’re better able to make decisions that are best for you — and you feel more confident, too. Your vision is precious, and at Kaiser Permanente, we want you to feel good about LASIK and laser eye surgery. The providers at our San Francisco, Sacramento, Walnut Creek, and other Northern California offices have answered just about every question imaginable when it comes to eye surgery, and we’ve shared some of the most common ones here.

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To get started with Kaiser Permanente Laser Vision Correction, request your consultation online or call us at (888) 330-0665.

Do I need to be a Kaiser Permanente member to have cataract surgery?

You need to be a Kaiser Permanente member to see a Kaiser Permanente provider for cataract surgery.

What is Cataract Surgery?

Cataract surgery removes the lens that has become a cataract — a painless cloudiness in the lens of the eye. In order for you to see, the lens must be replaced. This happens in one of two ways:

  • During the surgery, the physician places an artificial lens in your eye. This is how most cataract surgery is done. Most people also need to wear glasses or contact lenses after surgery for some activities.
  • In a few cases, the physician can’t replace the lens. If that happens, you’ll wear thick glasses or contact lenses instead.

Because the surgery replaces the lens in your eye, it’s important to talk to your physician about your choices.

If you have an astigmatism, your surgery may cost more. Talk to your physician about your treatment options and costs.

In Their Own Words...

Just wanted to let you know that I am flat-out amazed at how well I am seeing the world. Small print, colors, shapes, reading the text on TV and on my reader. No glasses needed…Thank you for giving me a better life. Dr. Carnahan you are THE best!”

— Elaine M., Toric IOL patient in Santa Rosa Read More Patient Testimonials

How well does cataract surgery work?

Cataract surgery usually works very well.

If you don’t have another eye problem, such as glaucoma or problems with your cornea or retina, your chances of seeing better after cataract surgery are very good. But you may still need reading glasses or glasses for distance vision.

If you are nearsighted or farsighted, or if you have astigmatism, you may not need your glasses or contacts as much after surgery. This is because replacing the lens can improve these problems. But the surgery is not done for this reason alone.

What are the risks of cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery doesn’t usually cause problems. Your vision may be cloudy for up to 3 months after surgery, but this is normal and will resolve itself as your eye heals.

Cloudy vision sometimes comes back.

The most common problem after surgery is a gradual return of cloudy vision over several months or years after surgery. The problem happens when a part of the remaining lens capsule becomes cloudy. The clouding can be fixed with laser surgery.

Serious problems aren’t common.

According to a 2011 Healthwise study, out of 100 people who have cataract surgery, fewer than 10 have serious problems1. This means that at least 90 out of 100 people do not have serious problems.

Newer surgery techniques, such as using a laser for part of the surgery, makes it less likely for problems to occur during or after surgery.

Serious problems that can occur include:

  • Swelling of the retina or cornea. This may cause blurry vision that often goes away on its own. If it doesn’t, more treatment may be needed.
  • New or different astigmatism, which can usually be treated with glasses or contact lenses.
  • Infection in the eye. A very serious infection called endophthalmitis can lead to blindness. This type of infection is rare.
  • Problems caused by bits of the cataract left behind. Your physician may need to do surgery to remove these bits and improve your vision.

What are the risks of not having cataract surgery?

Usually, a cataract that isn’t removed will slowly get worse and make your eyesight worse:

  • You may no longer be able to do your usual daily activities.
  • You may not be able to drive safely, especially at night.
  • You may be more likely to fall or hurt yourself.

The cataract may make it hard for your physician to check for other eye problems, such as damage from diabetes.

When a cataract isn’t treated until after it has become severe, the surgery may be harder to do. Also, you may be more likely to have problems after surgery or have a slower recovery than someone who had surgery for a less severe cataract.

Why might your physician recommend cataract surgery?

Your physician might recommend surgery if:

  • Poor eyesight is affecting your ability to do your job or take part in some leisure or social activities.
  • Surgery would help your physician keep track of another eye problem, such as a problem with your retina.
  • You do not have glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, or macular degeneration. Surgery may not improve eyesight in people who also have these eye problems.

1 Harper RA, Shock JP (2011). Lens. In P Riordan-Eva, JP Whitcher, eds., Vaughan and Asbury’s General Ophthalmology, 18th ed., pp. 174–182. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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