Category: Conditions

AMD Awareness Month- Q&A with Dr. Amir Kashani

AMD blog photo

What is AMD?

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a devastating retinal degenerative disease that affects the macula, the part of the eye that provides sharp, central vision. Those who suffer from this progressive disease are unable to drive, read or recognize faces. In AMD, vision loss is the result of the death or dysfunction of retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPE) that provide nutrients and support to the light sensing photoreceptor cells in the eye.

There are two forms of AMD: wet and dry. In the wet form of macular degeneration (known as choroidal neovascularization or CNV), abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula and retina. Fluid from leakage of these blood vessels accumulates and cause vision loss or distorted vision. In dry AMD (non-neovascular form) small yellow deposits form beneath the retina, which can ultimately lead to geographic atrophy (GA) or the advanced form of dry AMD. Dry AMD is the most prevalent form of macular degeneration and can be stable for many years without vision loss. Patients diagnosed with GA have severe loss of vision and a tangible impact on quality of life. To date, there is no cure or known treatment options for GA.

Who is at Risk?

In general the global burden of AMD remains substantial as a result of the aging population. Globally, the projected prevalence of AMD in 2020 is 196 million, increasing to 288 million in 2040. The main risk factors for AMD are age and race. Among Americans of European decent, the prevalence of AMD is projected to rise to nearly 5.44 million by 2050 according to reports from the National Eye Institute. A significant increase in the rate of AMD amongst minority populations has also been observed. Most notably, a six-fold rise of AMD has been reported in persons of Hispanic decent.

Other risk factors for AMD include positive family history, smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol and obesity.

How is AMD Diagnosed?

Pay attention to the signs of early disease including distorted vision and your risk factors for developing AMD. Please make an appointment to see your eye care specialist at least once a year if you are over 40 years of age, if you are at risk as a result of ocular and medical history, family history, age, or race and especially if you are noticing vision loss. Your ophthalmologist or optometrist will conduct a comprehensive eye exam, which will include dilated eye exams, visual acuity, and optical coherence tomography (OCT). Following a thorough assessment, your physician will work closely with you to determine the best course of action.

Are There Treatments for AMD?

RPE patch (white) implanted in the subretinal space.
RPE patch (white) implanted in the subretinal space.

In general there is no known cure for AMD. However, for the wet form of AMD, drug treatment options include anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) therapies. Such therapies reduce the level of VEGF, a protein known to stimulate abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina and macula. These drugs are administered as injections directly into the eye.

Thus far there is no FDA approved treatment available for dry AMD. USC vision researchers, Dr. Mark Humayun and David Hinton, funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, have recently developed a novel stem cell-based therapy for the treatment of advanced dry AMD. The treatment consists of a patch of RPE cells derived from stem cells that is grown onto a polymer scaffold and implanted behind the diseased portion of the eye. A clinical trial is currently underway to evaluate this potential treatment at USC and is led by Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology, Dr. Amir Kashani. Enrollment in the phase I/IIa clinical trial is ongoing for this stem cell-based treatment.

To learn more, please visit: +dry&rank=1.

Dr. Kashani specializes in complicated retinal detachment repair, recurrent retinal detachment repair, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, macular pucker, retinal vein occlusions, and hypertension related eye disease.


  1. Wong WL, Su X, Li X, et al. Global Prevalence of Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Disease Burden Projection for 2020 and 2040: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Lancet Glob Heal. 2014;2(2):106-116. doi:10.1016/S2214-109X(13)70145-1.
  2. Congdon N, O’Colmain B, Klaver CC, et al; Eye Diseases Prevalence Research Group. Causes and Prevalence of Visual Impairment Among Adults in the United States. Arch Ophthalmol. 2004;122(4):477-485.
  3. Varma R, Fraser-Bell S, Tan S, Klein R, Azen SP; Los Angeles Latino Eye Study Group. Prevalence of Age-Related Macular Degeneration in Latinos: The Los Angeles Latino Eye Study. Ophthalmology. 2004;111(7):1288-1297.

Vision Rehabilitation Services- Offering Hope to Patients with Low Vision

Q&A with Dr. Rachel Young, Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology

Rachel Young, OD, offers vision rehabilitation services
Rachel Young, OD, offers vision rehabilitation services

What is low vision and who qualifies?

Those who suffer from low vision experience a dramatic decrease in quality of life, as a result of decreased visual acuity, contrast sensitivity or poor visual fields. Generally, patients who have a visual acuity of 20/70 or worse in the better seeing eye, restricted visual fields, are no longer able to correct their vision through prescription glasses, contact lenses or medical intervention qualify as a low vision patient. Many serious eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and retinitis pigmentosa can cause low vision.

What does quality of life mean?

Quality of life is an indicator of how well an individual is able to effectively and independently carry out daily activities such as driving, reading, cooking and cleaning. It is not just about reading the small print, those who suffer from low vision can experience depression and anxiety without some form of intervention.

What is low vision rehabilitation?

At the USC Roski Eye Institute we believe in a personalized-care approach. Each patient I meet will have a customized plan according to his or her own unique lifestyle. General components such as determination of difficulties in activities of daily life, functional vision and visual field assessments are all a part of the initial evaluation. Based on the results, we will devise a plan that is best suited for you, which may include visual aids as well as counseling or training to improve quality of life.

What kind of treatments or devices are available?

After determining an appropriate eyeglass prescription and other factors such as contrast sensitivity, I discuss with the patient which device or assistive technology would be best suited to enhance their ability to perform daily tasks. I train patients on how to use devices offered by the eye institute such as magnifiers or telescopes. As well, I teach patients how to use assistive technologies like cell phones or tablets. USC Roski Eye Institute has also had a long-standing relationship with visual aid partners and many community organizations to offer additional resources.

Are there changes we can make now to improve our quality of life with low vision?

There are many things you can do to navigate and perform tasks better on a daily basis. You can find several tips on our website but here are a few things you can try:

  1. Improve lighting and never work in a dark room
  2. To reduce glare use shades or covers for shiny surfaces
  3. Color code things
  4. Use scissors in the kitchen in place of knives
  5. Use pill organizers for medication
  6. Download menus on your tablet before going to the restaurant
  7. Order large print labels from the pharmacy, financial statements or checks

February is National Age-related Macular Degeneration/Low Vision Awareness Month

IMG_1144Low vision can affect one or both eyes and be caused by aging, birth defects, injury or complications from disease. Those who suffer from vision loss lose their independence and experience a poor quality of life. Everyday tasks such as using a cell phone, driving, reading a favorite novel or even watching the grandchildren play, become challenging and often impossible.

USC Roski Eye Institute Low Vision Rehabilitation Service

The USC Roski Eye institute is committed to enhancing the lives of those diagnosed with low vision. USC Roski Eye Institute brings hope to those who suffer from low vision with new vision rehabilitation services. Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology, Rachel A. Young, O.D., offers several services such as prescription eyewear, magnifiers or filters and other forms of assistive technology to treat low vision. Patients are also offered personalized counseling or training to improve their general quality of life.

In addition physicians and residents are educated in the diagnosis and treatment of low vision. Dr. Young organized an annual low vision symposium for USC Roski Eye Institute residents. Vision rehabilitation specialists were invited to discuss the latest in low vision treatments. Numerous medical device suppliers also demonstrated the newest technological advances in vision rehabilitation devices.




USC Roski Eye Institute Making a Difference in the Fight Against AMD

AMD blog photo

Researchers at the USC Roski Eye Institute have made great strides in the treatment of vision loss caused by devastating diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Mark S. Humayun, MD, PhD, and David R. Hinton, MD, received nearly $38 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to develop a stem cell-based treatment for AMD. AMD affects over 1.75 million people age 50 and older in the United States. The leading cause of blindness and vision loss among the elderly, AMD is a central retinal disease that impacts the area of the eye that helps process images, leading to catastrophic vision loss. It targets central vision, resulting in the inability to read, recognize faces or even drive. The disease causes a loss of crucial retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells, which are essential to the survival of photoreceptors (light sensitive cells). To restore those RPE cells, the USC Roski Eye Institute team developed a unique procedure to grow thin sheets of stem cell-derived cells to be surgically implanted in the eye, replacing diseased sheets and restoring photoreceptors needed for vision. Phase 1 human clinical trial at the USC Roski Eye institute has already begun.

Schedule an Appointment at the USC Roski Eye Institute Today!

The exceptional eye doctors at USC Roski Eye Institute are experts at diagnosing and treating a wide variety of eye conditions. To receive a comprehensive eye exam and ensure that your vision is protected from diabetes-related conditions, please complete our online contact form or call 323-442-6335 today!

by Debbie Mitra

Extreme Diet Leads to Permanent Vision Loss in 11-Year-Old Boy

VAD Blog

An 11-year-old Canadian boy suffered vision loss from a rare case of vitamin A deficiency (VAD) as reported in the Journal of American Medical Association of Pediatrics.

Parents of the boy of east-Asian descent took him to the hospital over growing concerns that his vision was worsening over an eight-month period. In addition to vision loss, the boy also complained of dry eye.

Ophthalmologists found that the child had a restricted diet of potato, pork, lamb, apples, cucumber, and Cheerios due to his eczema and numerous food allergies. His vision was hand-motion only. Upon examination of the cornea, which is the outermost part of the eye responsible for refracting or focusing light, it appeared that there were opaque patches and inflammation.

After blood work was conducted, physicians found that the boys vitamin A levels were significantly below normal, measuring at 14.33 μg/dL (normal range, 25.79-48.71). The patient was immediately treated with high doses of vitamin A. While vision loss from VAD is often reversible, in this case, the boy suffered permanent vision loss due to optic atrophy or damage to the optic nerve.

“Conditions like this are rare in developed countries, and are thus often observed in underdeveloped countries where malnutrition is prevalent. You should always consult a physician before restricting your dietary intake. In general, having a proper diet rich in nutrients such as green leafy vegetables, omega fatty acids, zinc, lutein and carotenoids can have an impact on preserving healthy vision,” says cornea specialist, Jonathan Song, MD, MBA, Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology.

According to data provided by World Health Organization, VAD is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children and affects one third of children aged 6-59 months in underdeveloped countries in 2015 (see map below).


(Statistics of VAD-UNICEF global nutrition database, 2017, based on reports from 2015)

Schedule an Appointment at USC Roski Eye Institute Today

The exceptional eye doctors at USC Roski Eye Institute are experts at diagnosing and treating a wide variety of eye conditions. To receive a comprehensive eye exam and ensure that your vision is protected from diabetes-related conditions, please complete our online contact form or call 323-442-6335 today!

To learn more about the health services at the USC Roski Eye Institute or to support the Institute with a tax-deductible gift, please contact Rebecca Melville, senior director of development, via email at or by calling USC Roski Eye Institute.

By: Debbie Mitra


Model Risks Losing Eye after Tattooing it Purple

A model in Ottawa, Canada made the decision to tattoo her eye purple, as it was her favorite color. Very quickly she realized something was wrong when the purple ink began to leak from the white part of her eye. Experiencing excruciating pain, her eye began to swell and become infected.

In recent years, the procedure of scleral staining or episcleral tattooing has become an emerging trend. The sclera is the white outer layer of the eye. It is significantly more porous and thinner than skin. As a consequence, these dyes and inks can easily diffuse through the sclera and reach the fragile visual processing structures inside the eye. According to a report in 2015, episcleral tattooing can result in headaches or photophobia (light sensitivity) to more severe complications like infection, hemorrhage or even direct penetration into the eyeball.

Photo: Catt Gallinger
Photo: Catt Gallinger

“Eye tattooing is not recommended as it is very dangerous and can cause serious complications. Once inside the eye, these chemicals will wreak havoc because of their innate toxicity and will most certainly lead to devastating visual loss,” says Charles W. Flowers, Jr. MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology at the USC Roski Eye Institute.

The ophthalmologist who treated model Catt Gallinger, observed a scleral tear from the large needle used to stain her eye as well as a severe infection. Gallinger received grafts and has permanent vision loss from this procedure.

Having posted multiple times on Facebook, Gallinger has brought greater awareness to the dangers of undergoing episcleral tattooing.

Schedule an Appointment at USC Roski Eye Institute Today

The exceptional eye doctors at USC Roski Eye Institute are experts at diagnosing and treating a wide variety of eye conditions. To receive a comprehensive eye exam and ensure that your vision is protected, please complete our online contact form or call 323-442-6335 today!

To learn more about the health services at the USC Roski Eye Institute or to support the Institute with a tax-deductible gift, please contact Rebecca Melville, executive director of development, via email at or by calling USC Roski Eye Institute.

By: Debbie Mitra, PhD


Contact Lens Health Week

27 Contacts Lenses Found in Eye of 67 year old Woman

Contact Lens mass

A 67-year-old woman scheduled, for what was supposed to be a routine cataract surgery, underwent a foreign body extraction procedure instead. A staggering 27 contact lenses were removed from the eye of a woman who had worn monthly disposable contact lenses for over 35 years. As reported in the British Medical Journal last month, the ophthalmologist removed a large mass of 17 fused contact lenses. Upon further inspection under a microscope, an additional 10 contact lenses were retained. Although the patient had poor vision, she did not complain of any issues with her eye prior to the day of surgery.

“This case study underscores the importance of appropriately wearing and caring for your contact lenses. Disposable contact lenses are meant to be disposed of as reuse puts patients at high risk of serious eye infections, and in some cases permanent vision loss,” says Charles Flowers, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology.

Those who wear contact lenses are at risk of infections of the ocular surface, due to low oxygen levels to the cornea (outermost part of the eye) or if the lenses have not been appropriately cleaned allowing build-up of infective agents.

In honor of Contact Lens Health Week here are some tips to preventing Eye infections

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your eyes or face
  • Thoroughly clean your contact lenses, store in clean containers, and use fresh solutions without sharing
  • Change your contact lens case every three months. Do not use the same case beyond three months.
  • Do not share your makeup, face towels, or any eye drops
  • Wear protective eyewear outdoors or in a workplace where there may be hazards
  • Seek medical attention immediately if you notice symptoms of a suspected eye infection
  • Always use protection to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Such diseases, although rare, can manifest in the eye

Thus routine eye exams are essential to ensure healthy vision. To schedule a consultation at our Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Pasadena, or Arcadia location call 323-442-6335.


“In the Know” on Men’s Vision

Men's Health Banner

Historically men are less likely than women to go to the doctor and address any health concerns. This month take the time to learn more about how you can maintain healthy vision. When you see an ophthalmologist you will likely be screened for diseases such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Routine vision screenings are essential to maintaining healthy vision, preventing permanent vision loss and even detecting diseases beyond the eye.

3 Systemic Diseases that Manifest in the Eye

Even if you have great vision, seeing a specialist can save your vision and even your life.

#1 Diabetes

Men are at higher risk of developing Type II Diabetes

Changes to retinal blood vessels found in the light sensing tissue in the back of the eye known as the retina, can be early symptoms of diabetes. Detection of bleeding or leaking of these blood vessels can lead to early diagnosis of diabetes which is known to cause a number of eye complications that include conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema (DME), cataracts and glaucoma. If left untreated, many have lost their vision and have even gone blind from this disease. Early detection of diabetes within the eye cannot only prevent vision loss, but a multitude of broader diabetic-related complications such as nerve damage, heart disease and even stroke.

#2 Hypertension

High blood pressure can increase with age but can even occur in men younger then 45

Hypertension or high blood pressure can cause damage to the blood vessels in your eye and can lead to hypertensive retinopathy. Over time, if high blood pressure is poorly controlled, major vision loss can occur due to damage to retinal blood vessels and even increase your risk for glaucoma. Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology and Retina specialist, Andrew Moshfeghi MD, MBA, recommends regular eye exams. “Earlier detection of hypertensive retinopathy can alert your physician to the possibility of broader complications of hypertension including heart disease and stroke,” says Moshfeghi.

#3 Cancer

Metastases of lung cancer in and around the eye is more common in men

Breast and lung cancers are the most common primary malignancies that can metastasize to the eye and surrounding tissues. A study recently reported that in multiple cases, detection of eye metastases is often the first indicator of an underlying malignancy. Most notably for men, although relatively rare, prostate cancer can also metastasize to the eye. Regular ophthalmic exams for men in addition to routine physicals, which include prostate exams, are essential, as early detection will lead to better outcomes.

Thus routine eye exams can provide valuable information about your overall health. To schedule a consultation at our Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Pasadena, or Arcadia location call 323-442-6335.

For further information:


Making a Difference in the Lives of Those We Serve

For nearly a century, the Braille Institute has been on a mission to eliminate barriers to a fulfilling life caused by blindness and severe vision loss. This goal is made possible by providing an environment of hope and encouragement and teaching its students that life is more than just vision. Each year the Braille Institute serves more than 80,000 people through a variety of free classes, programs and services at six centers and 220 community outreach locations throughout Southern California.

Adults, young adults and children can take advantage of the Braille Institute’s suite of free services, including classes in art, technology, business of living, health and fitness, music and communication. Each center offers a unique schedule tailored to members of the community. A typical weekday could begin with salsa dancing in the morning, followed by personal home management and end with a game of Scrabble with friends in the afternoon. The Braille Institute also brings its services to various communities through the Mobile Solutions vans that travel throughout the region. Perhaps one of the most reputable and beneficial services is the Braille Institute Library, offering more than 100,000 titles and 1.2 million volumes in their collection. The library amenities include a browsing area, patron computer, mini café, and a Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) station.

The Braille Institute offers two seminars a year, focusing on low vision and technology. Vivek Patel, MD, associate professor of ophthalmology and director of neuro-ophthalmology and adult strabismus at the USC Roski Eye Institute, Keck School of Medicine of USC, was a guest speaker at the last event. His discussion focused on how USC Roski Eye Institute researchers strive to understand the structural and functional connections of the visual brain. Deeper understanding of the visual brain holds great promise for future innovations. Attendees asked many questions about brain mapping and what is next on the horizon.

We look forward to meeting many of you at the next event in May.

Meet Cathy

Cathy was considered legally blind when she was four years old. Cathy has been a Braille student for more than 30 years and speaks very highly of all the classes offered. She loves that each center offers unique programs, allowing her to break out of her comfort zone. Cathy’s favorite center is the Los Angeles location because of the acting classes.

Meet Nancy

In 2012, Nancy noticed that her vision was deteriorating. She saw a specialist who diagnosed her with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). After the treatments prescribed by the doctor weren’t helping, she was referred to another specialist who diagnosed her with dry AMD. Nancy decided to reach out to the Braille Institute to utilize their free resources and learn how to adapt to her ever-changing reality. She considers the Braille Institute to be an incredible source of support for her.

Meet Beth

Beth has had to undergo countless eye surgeries and corneal transplants. Her optimistic attitude has prevailed in her interactions with her doctors and she is grateful for the care she has received. At the Braille Institute, Beth takes as many art classes as possible and enjoys the support groups where she and other students are able to share their experiences with each other. Beth feels part of a community every time she is at the Braille Institute.

The Latest Advances in Glaucoma that May Help Save your Sight

Q+A session with Dr. Grace Richter


Richter Clinic


  1. What is Glaucoma and can it make me blind?

Glaucoma affects millions of people worldwide and is the leading cause of irreversible blindness. Approximately 3 million Americans have glaucoma with over half that go undiagnosed.1 Glaucoma is a complex eye condition that damages the optic nerve, which is the nerve that connects the eye to the brain and is responsible for transmitting images to the brain.   It is often accompanied with elevated eye pressure. We treat glaucoma by reducing eye pressure to prevent additional nerve damage. There are two main types of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and angle-closure glaucoma, both of which can lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated.


  1. Are you at risk of getting Glaucoma?

Knowing the risk factors of glaucoma is essential as early diagnosis is key to saving your sight.

General Risk factors include:

  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Ocular trauma, inflammation of the eye or previous eye surgeries
  • Over the age of 40
  • Suspicious findings on the eye exam


Risk factors for open-angle glaucoma include:

  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Increasing age
  • Nearsightedness
  • African American or Latino ancestry


Risk factors for angle-closure glaucoma:

  • Chinese ancestry
  • Farsightedness


  1. What are the treatment options?

The only proven way to prevent additional damage to the optic nerve is to lower the eye pressure.  While pressure can be managed by eye drops, patients may also benefit from laser treatments and even surgery. Depending on the type and severity of glaucoma, some patients benefit most from minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS), which has a quicker recovery than traditional glaucoma surgery and can be combined with cataract surgery. Some examples of MIGS procedures2 currently performed at USC include:


  • XEN gel stent. A unique device that conforms to the ocular tissue and is successful at fluid drainage and reducing eye pressure while also being extremely comfortable for the patient.
  • iStent. A 1mm trabecular bypass microstent is inserted into the trabecular meshwork, the natural drainage system of the eye. This improves outflow of fluid from the eye using the natural drainage pathway. This is the smallest implantable device in the human body!
  • Trabectome. A portion of the trabecular meshwork is ablated (removed) to increase outflow of fluid from the eye.
  • Endoscopic cyclophotocoagulation. An endoscopic laser probe is inserted into the eye and used to apply laser to the ciliary body, the part of the eye that produces fluid. The effect is reduced production of fluid in the eye, which lowers eye pressure.
  • Micropulse transcleral cyclophotocoagulation. A micropulse laser probe is applied to the outside of the eye near the ciliary body. The effect is also reduced fluid in the eye.


The USC Roski Eye Institute clinical researchers are actively involved in improving glaucoma diagnosis and treatment. Our researchers are also developing novel glaucoma drainage devices, intraocular pressure sensors, as well as drug delivery systems that will improve glaucoma control and quality of life for our glaucoma patients.


  1. Which treatment is right for you?

Each glaucoma patient is treated individually with a unique treatment plan considering all clinical factors. After your glaucoma consultation at USC, we will discuss the best treatment options specific to you and your eyes.


  1. What lies ahead: new glaucoma treatments on the horizon?

One exciting new device which was recently FDA-approved is the XEN gel stent, which was developed in part by USC researchers. This is a promising MIGS device that provides greater pressure reduction than other minimally invasive treatment options, and we are proud to offer it to our patients at USC.


  1. Is there anything you can do to prevent getting Glaucoma?

In general, blindness from glaucoma is preventable through early detection.  If you believe you may be at risk, are over 50 years of age, or have family members with glaucoma, please get your eyes examined with an emphasis on assessing the optic nerve and peripheral vision. In general it is good practice to get regular eye exams.  To make an appointment, please call (323)442-6335.



Dr. Grace Richter is an ophthalmologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. She is residency and fellowship trained and a fellow of the Heed Ophthalmic Foundation.

1Vajaranant TS, Wu S, Torres M, Varma, R. Am. J Ophthalmol, 152,2; 303–314.e3.
2 Richter GM, Coleman, AL. Clinical Ophthalmology 2016:10 189-206.

June is Cataract Awareness Month

cataract - USC Roski Eye InstituteIt may come as a surprise to many that among all of the blinding conditions that exist, cataracts are the leading cause of preventable blindness worldwide. Unfortunately, those who suffer from cataracts in developing nations may not have the access to care and the technology required to diagnose and treat cataracts. Surgical procedures to remove cataracts have evolved considerably and can literally restore vision, within minutes, to individuals who have gone blind from advanced cataracts.

USC Roski Eye institute physicians specializing in cataract surgery have joined forces with international charitable organizations to provide their services. “I feel privileged and honored to be able to use my expertise and training in cataract surgery to restore vision to those blinded by cataracts,” said Jonathan Song, MD, associate professor of clinical ophthalmology at the USC Roski Eye Institute and director of the Cataract service. “In my travels to countries like Fiji, Nicaragua, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, China, Mexico and Latvia, there are no words to describe the impact cataract surgery has on the people I have operated on. Loss of vision can mean a loss of life. People depend on their sight to earn a living and provide for their families,” explains Song.

Our cataract surgeons want you to be aware of the causes, symptoms and treatments available for cataracts. The USC Roski Eye Institute’s Cataract Service is proud to provide the most advanced technology and expertise in cataract removal and intraocular lens replacement.

What is a cataract?

A cataract results when the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy and impedes light from entering the eye. The lens is a transparent structure found in the eye that helps bend light to allow it to be precisely focused on the retina. Cataracts generally occur in those over the age of 50, but may be congenital or result from trauma, or specific diseases. The only available treatment for cataracts is surgical removal of the lens and replacement with an intraocular lens implant.

Symptoms of Cataracts

  • Decreasing vision with age
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Seeing halos around bright lights
  • Difficulty distinguishing colors
  • Frequent prescription changes for glasses
  • Difficulty reading

Causes of Cataracts

  • Age
  • Eye trauma
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Glaucoma
  • Some medications including long-term use of oral steroids
  • Sun Exposure

Cataract Surgery: an outpatient procedure

A couple of decades ago, cataract surgery was still considered high risk and associated with long recovery times. Today, cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure, which can even allow a patient to operate a vehicle one day after surgery. The procedure itself is extremely safe —involving a microscopic incision through which the cataract is removed and a foldable intraocular lens (IOL) is implanted to replace the clouded lens. The diminished recovery time is the result of the rapid healing of the tiny incision that is made during the time of surgery.

A Major Advancement in Cataract Removal- Custom Laser Cataract Surgery

The USC Roski Eye Institute’s Cataract Service also offers Custom Laser Cataract Surgery, which involves the use of a femtosecond laser to perform essential components of the procedure. Unlike a surgical blade used during traditional cataract surgeries, the advanced technology of a femtosecond laser is effectively able to create a corneal incision, open the lens capsule, and fragment the cataract into small pieces without entering the eye. The laser surgery goes beyond traditional cataract surgery as it allows surgeons to perform additional procedures during the time of cataract removal, resulting in improved vision and less dependence on glasses or bifocals. For example, the laser technique can allow for surgeons to carry out treatment of presbyopia and astigmatism, during the surgical procedure.

This technique is highly advantageous to those who have ocular diseases like glaucoma as well. “We are fortunate that the femtosecond laser technology at the USC Roski Eye Institute has become available to patients with glaucoma. It gives predictable results and does not lead to elevation in eye pressure during post operative recovery,” said Alena Reznik, MD, assistant professor of clinical ophthalmology at the institute. “Remarkably, we are also able to perform minimally invasive glaucoma surgery at the same time as femtosecond cataract extraction to further decrease recovery time, use of general anesthesia and glaucoma drops in the future,” said Reznik, who is also part of the Glaucoma service.

Our trusted ophthalmologists at the USC Roski Eye Institute are fellowship-trained specialists who provide the most cutting-edge technology in the treatment of cataract removal. If you feel that you are experiencing symptoms related to the development of cataracts, please call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) to make an appointment.

by Debbie Mitra

Next, read about Visual Impairment and Blindness in the U.S.

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