It 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
- Eye trauma
- 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.
Next, view our video on Protecting Eyes From UV Damage.
Whether you’re a full-time employee or a freelancer working from the comfort of home, it’s important to be aware of the risks of workplace eye injuries and the various safety practices you should follow. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, almost 25,000 people suffer eye injuries on the job that requires emergency medical attention each year. This Workplace Eye Wellness Month, please join the USC Roski Eye Institute in staying up-to-date on what you can do to protect your eyesight while you work.
The Most Common Workplace Eye Injuries
While certain industries are more well known for posing greater risks to employees’ health and safety, such as construction, manufacturing, or even health care, it is necessary for people of all industries to be aware of potential dangers at work.
The most common workplace eye injuries include:
Over-Exposure to Computer Screens – With more and more people making a living from behind a computer screen, it is important to note that staring into the glowing light of a computer, laptop, or tablet can cause eye pain, eye dryness and vision issues. The level of eye strain and blurry vision will depend on the amount of exposure on a daily basis.
Small Flying Particles – Small objects, such as wood chips, metal slivers, or cement chips can cause irritation or even penetrate the delicate tissue.
Blunt Force Trauma – Large objects, including wooden beams or metal bars, can strike the socket or the eyeball, resulting in bruising, orbital injury, retinal detachment, double vision, or bleeding.
Chemical Burns – Chemical workplace eye injuries are not uncommon in the janitorial, medical, or construction industries. Ammonia, disinfectants, strong acids, and alkali substances can irritate the delicate surface of the eyes, potentially causing scarring, perforation, and blindness.
Thermal Burns – Exposure to extreme heat, such as from an oven, welding equipment, or industrial materials like molten plastics or hot gases, can penetrate the eye quickly, resulting in severe injury or total vision loss.
Radiation – Ionizing radiation from x-rays or radioisotopes, or ultraviolet radiation from tanning lamps, welding arcs, or electric sparks are the most common causes of workplace eye burn injuries. Depending on the type and amount of exposure, the damage may be gradual, developing within a few days to a year or so following exposure.
Exposure to Infectious Diseases – Nurses, doctors, and others in the medical industry face a particularly higher risk of workplace eye infections via ocular exposure to diseases. Infectious diseases and viruses can be transmitted by direct exposure to respiratory droplets or blood, as well as from touching the face or eyes with contaminated fingers.
Vision Safety Tips
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers take appropriate measures to ensure that their employees are protected against potential workplace eye injuries. In order to help prevent workplace eye injuries, it is also important for individuals to keep the following tips in mind:
- When working at a computer, take breaks every 15 minutes to relax the eyes. Sit about 30 inches away from the screen. Try to stay well hydrated, this can help with dryness.
- Review your work space for potential hazards before starting work.
- Wear protective eyewear in areas that pose the risk of injury
- Always use appropriate protective eyewear that fits, such as goggles, safety glasses, welding helmets, full-face respirators, or face shields.
- Stay up-to-date on first aid procedures for common workplace injuries and make sure that the first aid kit is well stocked.
- Encourage coworkers and new hires to follow all safety procedures to prevent workplace eye injuries.
In the event of a workplace eye emergency it is important to take action immediately and see a doctor as soon as possible. Even seemingly minor irritants can cause significant damage over time. No matter what type of damage, remember to never rub the eye. In the event of a chemical exposure, the eye should be immediately irrigated with eyewash or water. Punctures or cuts should be covered by a rigid shield, such as a cup, while seeking medical attention. If there is a foreign body stuck in the eye, do not try to remove it prior to seeking medical advice, doing so can cause more injury.
Protect Your Vision with USC Roski Eye Institute
Whether you have suffered a workplace eye injury, suspect that your work conditions are affecting your eyesight, or simply want an annual exam, the board-certified ophthalmologists at the USC Roski Eye Institute are highly experienced providing the best quality vision care and treatment available. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us by completing our online contact form or simply calling (323) 442-6335. We are located in Los Angeles, Arcadia, Beverly Hills, and Pasadena.
For more information about the USC Roski Eye Institute or to support the Institute by making a tax-deductible gift, please contact Rebecca Melville, senior director of development, at 323.442.5396 or via email at Rebecca.Melville@med.usc.edu.
Next, read Incidence of Childhood Myopia on the Rise.