Category: Conditions

Ask the Expert: How COVID-19 Affects the Eyes (Updated 8/24/21)

Interviewed by Eric Weintraub, Additional Expertise Contributions by Dr. Brian Toy

Much continues to remain unknown about the constantly evolving coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, more information has become available in the past 1.5 years regarding COVID-19’s effects on one of the most sensitive parts of our bodies: the eyes. To provide an update, Dr. Annie Nguyen, Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology and Assistant Director of the Cornea & Refractive Surgery Fellowship at the USC Roski Eye Institute, answers frequently asked questions about whether our eyes are vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.
 

If COVID-19 droplets land in your eye, are you susceptible to infection?

The evidence of ocular transmission has not been well studied. However, mucous membranes, which line many body cavities and organs including the respiratory tract, are most susceptible to the novel coronavirus and viruses in general. The surface of the eye and inner eyelids are also lined by mucous membrane called the conjunctiva. Therefore, if infected droplets land in your eye, you are possibly susceptible to the infection. Published reports suggest that SARS-CoV-2 can possibly be transmitted by aerosol contact with conjunctiva.

The mode of COVID-19 transmission is still believed to be primarily through respiratory droplets from person-to-person. However, the virus can also live on surfaces up to a few days; therefore, touching an infected surface, then touching your eyes, nose or mouth without washing your hands may lead to infection, but this risk is generally considered to be low.

 
 

Can cleaning the eyes with water or over the counter eyedrops decrease the chance of infection?

The ocular surface has its own protective mechanisms, including antimicrobial proteins and natural lubrication. Therefore, routine cleaning or flushing of the eyes with water is not necessary and may actually strip away some of the ocular surface’s natural protective barriers, leading to increased risk of infection.

If your eyes become irritated or red, using over-the-counter artificial tears may help alleviate your symptoms. If symptoms are persistent, you should contact your eye care provider.

 

Is it true that contact wearers have a higher risk of infection for COVID-19?

With proper hygiene, there is no evidence that wearing contact lenses increases your risk of infection for COVID-19. However, contact lens wearers touch their eyes more often than the average person. If you tend to touch or rub your eyes, it may be best to switch to glasses temporarily, given risk of transmission from rubbing without proper hand hygiene. Also, glasses minimize risk of irritation from contact lens wear and serve as a barrier that forces you to pause before touching your eyes.

Although not that best protection, glasses can also serve as a partial shield from respiratory droplets. If you do continue contact lens wear, make sure you carefully adhere to contact lens hygiene and wash your hands. If you develop redness or irritation, please discontinue contact lens wear, and contact your eye doctor.

 

Is it true that pink eye is an early sign of COVID-19? What are some others ocular signs and symptoms?

Yes, pinkeye, or conjunctivitis, has been reported to be a possible sign of infection from COVID-19. It is still uncertain exactly what percentage of patients with COVID-19 have ocular manifestations and different sources are reporting different numbers. Although some studies have reported up to one-third of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 had ocular abnormalities, more studies are still needed. Of course, causes of conjunctivitis that are not COVID-19 related continue to persist.

Since the start of the pandemic, besides conjunctivitis, COVID-19 has been reported to be associated with other ocular problems including episcleritis, uveitis, lacrimal gland inflammation, changes to the retina and optic nerve, and issues with ocular motility. Although rare, some of these issues can lead to vision loss.

 

Can COVID-19 cause temporary or permanent damage to your eyes (perhaps from lack of oxygen)?

If a patient were in respiratory distress long enough, theoretically poor perfusion and oxygen deprivation could lead to possible damage to metabolically active tissues, such as the optic nerve or retina. In this instance, eye damage would be caused by decreased oxygen, rather than the virus itself. Perhaps the most devastating vision-related complication of severe COVID-19 infection is acute stroke affecting the parts of the brain that control vision.

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) due to COVID-19 has been reported which can lead to increased intracranial pressure and vision loss.

Corneal nerve damage has been associated with “long COVID,” debilitating symptoms that persist more than four weeks after recovery from the acute illness.

 

Does the Delta variant affect the eyes any differently?

The Delta variant has been shown to be more contagious. Overall, the symptoms are similar to those seen with the original coronavirus strain and other variants; however, cough and loss of taste are less common, and fever, runny nose, headache and sore throat are more common. Like other variants of the coronavirus, delta may be able to cause certain eye-related problems, but we are not certain at this time.

 

Can COVID-19 be transmitted through tear droplets and is this something to worry about?

The potential of transmission through ocular secretions is currently unknown, and it remains unclear how SARS-CoV-2 accumulates in ocular secretions. Transmission through infected ocular tissue or fluid has been controversial. Novel coronavirus has been detected in tear samples in a small number of cases. Given the presence of viral particles, it is, therefore, possible to transmit COVID-19, although the risk is likely low. However, the infectivity or clinical significance is not known, and additional studies are needed at this time.

 

What precautions should you take if you are on immunosuppressive medications?

Patients who are immunosuppressed may be more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection, so it is important to adhere to physical distancing measures to minimize risk. Please discuss potential modification of your medication regimen with your physician (uveitis specialist or rheumatologist). In most cases of patients who are not ill, the risk of vision loss from uncontrolled eye inflammation is greater than the possible increased risk of acquiring COVID-19.

 

How do I protect myself from COVID-19?

Over a year and half into the pandemic, there is now more information available on how to protect yourself from COVID-19. Masking, hand-hygiene, and physical distancing remain effective tools to decrease rate of transmission. Above all, vaccination with one of the three currently available COVID-19 vaccines used in the United States — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson—has been shown to significantly reduce your risk of getting COVID-19 and reduce the severity of symptoms if you get a breakthrough infection. As of August 23, 2021, the FDA has granted full approval of the Pfizer vaccine. Please continue to follow evolving recommendations from the CDC and your health care provider.

 
 

Dr. Nguyen closed the interview by reminding us that the COVID-19 situation is always evolving and we are learning more about the virus every day. Please contact your primary care physician if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. If you have irritation or pain in the eye or difficulty seeing, please reach out to an eye care provider.

Dr. Nguyen based much of the information from this interview on what she learned in the following sources:

Under Pressure: How Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery Saved a Promising, Young Student’s Eyesight

In March 2019, Namita Sarraf’s life changed. She began suffering episodes of redness, pain, and light sensitivity in her left eye that seemed to recur despite treatment by her ophthalmologist. Namita, a busy graduate student, was trying to finish her studies in bioengineering. She didn’t have time for this.

“When the pressure in my eye was really high, it felt like a balloon about to pop,” Namita said. “There was also sharp, piercing pain near my temple, a pressure headache. When I stood up, my vision clouded over. There were halos around lights all the time, but especially at night.”

Namita was diagnosed with recurrent anterior uveitis of her left eye, a relatively uncommon condition in which the colored part of the eye becomes inflamed, sometimes for unknown reasons. Her ophthalmologist treated her with anti-inflammatory steroid eye drops, but these had the dangerous side effect of increasing the pressure in her eye and causing glaucoma – a condition in which blindness can occur due to optic nerve damage from persistently elevated pressure. After nearly a year of treatment, the episodes of eye inflammation continued, and it seemed her condition was not improving.

“I was frustrated that the inflammation kept coming back after each round of steroid eye drops,” Namita said. “It became clearer over time how my particular brand of uveitis would behave, but getting to that point felt like chaos.”

At the recommendation of a family friend, she sought out the expert opinion of Dr. Narsing Rao, an internationally renowned uveitis specialist who’s now interim dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Dr. Rao was concerned about the rising pressure in her left eye, which was now twice the upper limit of normal (normal eye pressure is considered 10-21 mmHg). He knew that vision loss that could occur as a result of glaucoma damage.

That same week, Dr. Rao referred her to see Dr. Brian Song, a glaucoma specialist at the USC Roski Eye Institute. “Namita’s pressure was out of control when I first met her,” Dr. Song said. “This is not uncommon in patients with uveitis, because they often require steroid eye drops to control their pressure. However, steroid eye drops are often associated with a rise in the eye pressure, sometimes to dangerous levels, as it did in Namita’s case.”

Dr. Song initially made some changes to Namita’s medications with the hope of avoiding surgery, but this only led to a minimal improvement in her pressure. At this point, she was using five different medications to try to control the eye pressure, so Dr. Song recommended she undergo urgent surgery to lower the pressure and save her sight. While traditional glaucoma surgery involves making a large incision or placing a large tube in the eye to lower the pressure, Dr. Song thought she was a good candidate for a newer, minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS). The advantage of MIGS in Namita’s case would be a lower risk of complications and a faster, easier recovery.

While Namita did not like the thought of having eye surgery, she knew there was no other choice. “It felt unfair, because the treatment I needed for the uveitis had caused the elevated pressure that resulted in my needing surgery,” she said. “But Dr. Song was patient and informative. He referenced data that had been published just weeks earlier in a medical journal, indicating how he was also searching for the best way to treat his patients.”

Not long after, Dr. Song performed a combined canaloplasty and trabeculotomy through a small incision to open the natural drain of the eye. “In glaucoma that occurs from uveitis and steroids used to treat the uveitis, the eye’s natural drain often is not functioning properly,” said Dr. Song. “In the right patient, we can use a special instrument, called the OMNI, through a small incision to open up the eye’s natural drain without creating a separate artificial drain or placing an implant in the eye.”

The morning after surgery, the pressure in Namita’s eye had dropped back to normal levels. Now, six months later, not only is her pressure controlled, but her uveitis has not recurred, thanks to a new, simpler treatment regimen.

“I was very happy to find that the pressure in my eye had decreased as expected, confirming that the surgery had solved the problem. I am so grateful for the care I received at USC and to be able to focus on my studies again.”
 

Do you know someone with an eye condition similar to Namita’s? Or do you suffer from a condition that sounds similar? If so, please reach out to us at 323-442-6335 or contact us to schedule a consultation today.

USC Dry Eye Center of Excellence Creates a Tear Biorepository for Identifying Biomarkers for Subtypes of Dry Eye

Affecting millions of Americans, especially the elderly, dry eye disease is one of the most common reasons for patient visits to an ophthalmologist. And yet, it remains a challenging condition for ophthalmologists to treat, due to the lack of understanding of its root causes.

As a disease with multiple underlying factors, it is challenging to diagnose or treat dry eye disease. On the diagnostic front, there has been a lack of consistency in the clinical work-up with no single test that is both readily available and reproducible. This lack of objective tests has hampered the development of new treatments for the disease.

As a solution to this problem, there has been a growing interest in identifying objective biomarkers that can be used as diagnostic tools for dry eye disease, and for objectively monitoring the progression of the disease and efficacy of treatments. In published studies, USC Roski Eye Institute researchers, Drs. Sarah Hamm-Alvarez and Maria Edman, analyzed tears in Sjögren’s Syndrome patients to identify diagnostic biomarkers for the autoimmune disease, which can cause dry eye that shows a significant change in water and specific protein levels. The result of their study was that the increased activity of the protease, Cathepsin S, was a potential biomarker for Sjögren’s Syndrome. The next step was to find biomarkers for additional subtypes of dry eye disease.

This year, researchers from the USC Dry Eye Center of Excellence (whose members includes Drs. Hamm-Alvarez and Edman) received an IRB approval to create a tear biorepository for identifying biomarkers for subtypes of dry eye. The USC Dry Eye Center of Excellence is comprised of a multidisciplinary team of USC Roski Eye Institute clinicians led by Dr. Annie Nguyen as well as other basic scientists from USC Roski Eye Institute and other USC schools (Keck School of Medicine, School of Pharmacy and Viterbi School of Engineering).

Patients seeking care for dry eye at the USC Roski Eye Institute already receive a thorough work-up according to the recommendations of the DEWS II workshop, which includes dry eye questionnaires, slit lamp examination, Schirmer’s test, tear osmolarity, lipid layer evaluation and MMP-9 testing. Together, these measurements provide an excellent view of each patient’s level of aqueous deficiency, meibomian gland disease and ocular surface inflammation. With the patient’s consent, the USC Dry Eye Center of Excellence researchers will store the tears generated during clinical work-up, as well as the clinical data, in the tear biorepository.

The tear biorepository will create a solid foundation for furthering the development of Cathepsin S as a biomarker for Sjögren’s Syndrome, testing its performance against other subtypes of dry eye and correlation with different clinical parameters. It will also allow researchers to characterize new alterations in tear composition in patients with different underlying conditions, varying degrees of meibomian gland disease, aqueous deficiency and other dry eye parameters. This will not only further the understanding of the different dry eye conditions but may also help identify new biomarkers and therapeutic targets.

The hope is that this will benefit a wide range of subsets of dry eye patients, paving the way for personalized medicine. Finally, the deep characterization of the dry eye disease population at the USC Roski Eye Institute will allow for better design of clinical trials for dry eye treatments performed at the clinic.

From Silhouettes to Sight: How a Keratoprosthesis Corrected One Patient’s Lifelong Struggle with Vision

Nguyen Roslymn

Pictured: Roslymn Caldwell (right) with her ophthalmologist Dr. Annie Nguyen

By Eric Weintraub

Ever since Roslymn Caldwell was born, she had eye conditions. What began as a lazy eye in childhood advanced to keratoconus in adulthood and Caldwell was blind for all of her adult life.

“My vision was blurry,” she said. “It wasn’t dark, but gray. I could see the silhouette of your face, but not the details.”

Her condition destroyed her confidence. She needed someone to drive her, read to her and guide her around her apartment. Caldwell underwent several cornea transplants, but her body rejected each. Ophthalmologists and optometrists throughout Southern California told her there was nothing they could do.

One day, a blind agency suggested Caldwell visit the USC Roski Eye Institute. Caldwell felt hopeless but went to a consultation with Dr. Annie Nguyen, an ophthalmologist who specializes in the cornea. Dr. Nguyen examined Caldwell’s eyes and recommended a keratoprosthesis, a procedure only offered by a handful of academic medical institutions worldwide.

Dr. Nguyen performed the procedure on Caldwell by replacing diseased tissue from the eye with a full-thickness transplant graft. She added a synthetic prosthetic device to the center of the graft so Caldwell’s eye would stay clear if the surrounding tissue failed. In addition, Drs. Benjamin Xu and Brian Toy performed surgeries that day to place a drainage device to control Caldwell’s glaucoma.

The morning after surgery, Caldwell woke at home up with the gift of sight. She ran around the apartment she’d lived in for a year and saw her living room, kitchen, and TV for the first time. She woke her caretaker and shouted, “I can see!”

Medical transportation drove Caldwell to her next check-up with Dr. Nguyen. Driving down the 14 freeway toward Los Angeles, she saw freeway signs, hills, and the license plates of other cars for the first time in decades. When she arrived at the USC Roski Eye Institute, Dr. Nguyen asked who was with her.

“No one,” Caldwell said. “I came here myself.” When she read the eye chart, she could see to the 20/40 line the day after surgery. Before surgery, she only saw motion and couldn’t even see the chart.

Since her surgery, Caldwell has retaken control of her life. She is in school and has rediscovered her love of reading.

“I recommend USC to anyone with an eye problem because it’s such a blessing to me,” Caldwell said. “Anyone who wants to see, come check them out.”
 

Do you know someone with an eye condition similar to Roslymn’s? Or do you suffer from a condition that sounds similar? If so, please reach out to us at 323-442-6335 or contact us to schedule a consultation today.

As COVID-19 Disrupts Education, Ophthalmology Residents Adapt

COVID Residents
Pictured above: Three of our many ophthalmology residents, all of whom continue their education amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Eric Weintraub

When Dr. Charles DeBoer, a second-year resident in the USC Department of Ophthalmology, learned that barrier shields meant to protect patients and physicians from COVID-19 droplet transfer were nationally backordered, he spent his own time and personal resources to build PPE customized for ophthalmic exams.

“I saw a barrier shield design in the paper, ‘Stepping up infection control measures in ophthalmology during the novel coronavirus outbreak: an experience from Hong Kong (2020)’ and thought the way they implemented infection control made sense,” said Dr. DeBoer. “So I copied it for our clinics and we refined the design.” In collaboration with co-resident Dr. Diana Lee and two attending physicians, Drs. Vivek Patel and Annie Nguyen, Dr. DeBoer created barrier shields out of polycarbonate sheets for slit lamps, the microscopes used to look into patients’ eyes.

Dr. DeBoer’s barrier shields now enable physicians to examine a patient closely while still reducing the risk of infection for them both at LAC+USC Medical Center (LAC+USC) and Keck Medical Center (KMC) ophthalmology clinics. This is only one example of how residents are adapting within the drastically disrupted learning environment due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

barrier shield slit lamp
Dr. DeBoer demonstrates how to assemble a slit lamp barrier shield.

In addition, residents are continuously implementing the latest COVID-19 industry responses provided by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). They are strengthening their history taking skills to learn more about their patients’ health histories, and have increased in-depth provider-to-provider discussions with their fellow residents, fellows, and faculty. Furthermore, residents are learning how to use new technology to provide telehealth services to meet patient needs.

“Telehealth allows us to perform a quick external exam of a patient’s eye,” said Dr. Hong-Uyen Hua, a second-year resident. “While it does not allow for a full assessment, it can help patients avoid in-office visits for non-urgent issues.”

Dr. Hua elaborated that patients often call with eye problems that can be resolved over the phone. Several patients who tested positive for COVID-19 have called with concern that they are developing an eye infection, as well. “In this situation, we ensure that the patient has no vision-threatening issues. We educate and counsel them on supportive care, emphasize the importance of social distancing, and make sure they practice good hygiene. As a result, we minimize exposure for everyone.”

Several residents expressed their belief that COVID-19 will permanently affect the ophthalmology landscape and that it has opened the door for telemedicine to play a more frequent role in the field.

Due to the California Governor’s Executive Order, as well as LA County requirements, clinic volume has been drastically limited to only treating patients with emergency eye conditions. The residency program has taken additional measurements to decrease the likelihood of a COVID-19 infection by having residents rotate in teams at LAC+USC, one week on and one week. In addition, KMC clinics are only seeing urgent patients and all elective surgeries have been canceled. Due to these changes, residents are not rotating in Keck clinics.

“The education and experience we get from seeing patients and operating on them has drastically declined,” said Dr. Ravi Shah, a third-year resident and co-chief resident. “This is likely going to affect different years of residents in different ways. For those that take advantage of the time to continue learning, it may be beneficial for them. But without that motivation, knowledge will quickly atrophy.”

Dr. Shah shared that away from clinic, residents are reading journal articles to stay updated on their respective fields and studying for their annual Ophthalmic Knowledge Assessment Program (OKAP) exams. In addition, the residency program’s education curriculum has quickly shifted to online learning. All faculty lectures and Grand Rounds continue to be conducted via Zoom.

Despite the disruption that COVID-19 has caused to the residents’ training, they share great pride in their colleagues’ resilience. “Too often likened to war, this pandemic has heroic troops battling this microscopic, insidious enemy every day,” said Dr. Hua. “When we chose medicine as a career, no healthcare worker imagined we would have to risk our own lives to save others. I am in awe of all of my colleagues on the frontline. I feel re-affirmed in my decision to choose medicine as a career and vocation during this unprecedented pandemic.”

Ask the Expert: How COVID-19 Affects the Eyes

This is a previous version of this article. For the most up-to-date version, click here

With healthcare information changing daily amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, little attention has been given to its effect on one of the most sensitive parts of our bodies: the eyes. To provide an update, Dr. Annie Nguyen, Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology and Assistant Director of the Cornea & Refractive Surgery Fellowship at the USC Roski Eye Institute, answers frequently asked questions about whether our eyes are vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.
 

If COVID-19 droplets land in your eye, are you susceptible to infection?

The evidence of ocular transmission has not been well studied. However, mucous membranes, which line many body cavities and organs including the respiratory tract, are most susceptible to the novel coronavirus and viruses in general. The surface of the eye and inner eyelids are also lined by mucous membrane called the conjunctiva. Therefore, if infected droplets land in your eye, you are possibly susceptible to the infection.

The mode of COVID-19 transmission is still believed to be primarily through respiratory droplets from person-to-person. However, the virus can also live on surfaces up to a few days; therefore touching an infected surface, then touching your eyes, noses or mouth without washing your hands may lead to infection.
 
 

Can cleaning the eyes with water or over the counter eyedrops decrease the chance of infection?

The ocular surface has its own protective mechanisms, including antimicrobial proteins and natural lubrication. Therefore, routine cleaning or flushing of the eyes with water is not necessary and may actually strip away some of the ocular surface’s natural protective barriers, leading to increased risk of infection.

If your eyes become irritated or red, using over-the-counter artificial tears may help alleviate your symptoms. If symptoms are persistent, you should contact your eye care provider.
 

Is it true that contact wearers have a higher risk of infection for COVID-19?

With proper hygiene, there is no evidence that wearing contact lenses in itself increases your risk of infection for COVID-19. However, contact lens wearers touch their eyes more often than the average person. If you have a tendency to touch or rub your eyes, it may be best to switch to glasses temporarily, given risk of transmission from rubbing without proper hand hygiene. Also, glasses minimize risk of irritation from contact lens wear and also serve as a barrier that forces you to pause before touching your eyes.

Although not that best protection, glasses can also serve as a partial shield from respiratory droplets. If you do continue contact lens wear, make sure you carefully adhere to contact lens hygiene and wash your hands. If you develop redness or irritation, please discontinue contact lens wear and contact your eye doctor.
 

Is it true that pink eye is an early sign of COVID-19?

Yes, pinkeye, or conjunctivitis, has been reported to be a possible sign of infection from COVID-19. It is still uncertain exactly what percentage of patients with COVID-19 have ocular manifestations and different sources are reporting different numbers.

Although a recent study in JAMA Ophthalmology reported up to one-third of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 had ocular abnormalities, more studies are still needed. Of course, causes of conjunctivitis that are not COVID-19 related continue to persist.
 

Can COVID-19 cause temporary or permanent damage to your eyes (perhaps from lack of oxygen)?

Although conjunctivitis, which is a temporary condition, has been linked to COVID-19, at this point permanent eye damage from COVID-19 has not been reported. If a patient were in respiratory distress long enough, theoretically poor perfusion and oxygen deprivation could lead to possible damage to metabolically active tissues, such as the optic nerve or retina, but this has yet to be reported in COVID-19 related cases. In this instance, eye damage would be caused by decreased oxygen, rather than the virus itself.
 

Can COVID-19 be transmitted through tear droplets and is this something to worry about?

Transmission through infected ocular tissue or fluid has been controversial. Novel coronavirus has been detected in tear samples in a small number of cases. Given the presence of viral particles, it is, therefore, possible to transmit COVID-19, although the risk is likely low. However, the infectivity or clinical significance is not known and additional studies are needed at this time.
 

What precautions should you take if you are on immunosuppressive medications?

Patients who are immunosuppressed may be more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection, so it is important to adhere to physical distancing measures to minimize risk. Please discuss potential modification of your medication regimen with your physician (uveitis specialist or rheumatologist). In most cases of patients who are not ill, the risk of vision loss from uncontrolled eye inflammation is greater than the possible increased risk of acquiring COVID-19.
 
 

Dr. Nguyen closed the interview by reminding us that the COVID-19 situation is always evolving and we are learning more about the virus every day. Please contact your primary care physician if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. If you have irritation or pain in the eye or difficulty seeing, please reach out to an eye care provider.

Dr. Nguyen based much of the information from this interview on what she learned in the following sources:

Cataract Surgery- What to Expect?



This surgery is used to remove a cataract. During the procedure, the cloudy lens in your eye is replaced with an artificial lens that will let you see clearly. This procedure is sometimes called “no-needle, no-stitch” cataract surgery. It’s quick, painless, and you can go home the same day.

When do you need cataract surgery?

Cataracts can be age-related and may occur from the age of 40 and up. Generally visual impairment from age-related cataracts can occur over the age of 60. Cataracts can also form from diseases such as diabetes, through injury or surgery, and even from prolonged exposure to sunlight. If you are experiencing symptoms such as blurred vision, halos or difficulty seeing at night, then it may be time to visit your eye care specialist who will access whether you have cataracts and if you require surgery.

How long does cataract surgery take?

Simple cataract removal can be as short as 10 minutes. However, the procedure may take anywhere from 30-60 minutes as patients need to recover from sedation or anesthesia. Cataract operations are out-patient procedures and patients may go home the same day.

Is cataract surgery painful?

Cataracts are rarely painful. Patients may feel some discomfort and pressure in the eye. Your doctor will prescribe eye drops for the first week following surgery.

How long can you drive after cataract surgery?

Generally patients may drive 24 hours after cataract surgery with full recovery from anesthesia.

How long does it take to recover?

Overall recovery of cataract surgery is typically one week. Be careful not to lift heavy things or getting water directly in the eye for one week. The visual recovery is very quick, most patients see well a day or two after surgery.

Blindness from Cataracts? Five Questions Answered

1. Did you know that cataracts are the leading cause of preventable blindness in the US and even worldwide?

Caused by a clouding of the lens in the eye, cataracts can result in vision loss and have a major impact on quality of life. Cataract-related visual impairment can take away a person’s independence and ability to do every day tasks like drive, cook, or even read.

2. Who is at risk and what are the causes?

Cataracts are not just found in the elderly. Although it may not affect vision at this stage, early signs of cataracts can occur from age 40 and up. Cataracts become progressive and debilitating with age, where almost half of Americans are estimated to have cataracts by the age of 65. Through population-based studies, USC Roski clinicians have also found that a projected 180,000 U.S. Latinos aged 40 and over nationwide have an unmet need for cataract surgery.

Cataracts can be caused by many factors including diseases such as diabetes, exposure to UV light or even smoking and alcohol use. Obesity, high blood pressure, eye injury, or surgery can also result in cataracts.

3. What are the signs?

It is important to recognize the signs. An eye exam is essential if you see halos of light, blurred or poor vision at night, double vision in a single eye or fading yellow of colors. In general, while these symptoms could be related to cataracts, visiting a skilled eye specialist for an evaluation is key to ensuring healthy vision.

4. How to prevent cataracts?

Healthy vision can come from leading a health lifestyle. Quit smoking, eat a well-balanced diet and take care of your health issues by seeing a physician regularly.

5. Cataract surgery – what to expect?

USC Roski cataract surgeons offer the latest advanced technology in cataract extraction. Typically cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure, lasting 30-60 minutes. Cataract surgery entails performing a lens exchange; the surgeon replaces the cloudy cataract lens with a clear lens implant.

In addition to standard lenses, we also offer our patients a large selection of premium lenses that are customizable including, mutifocal, toric and accommodative lenses. USC Roski Eye offers a minimally invasive technique such as femtosecond laser cataract surgery (custom laser cataract surgery) procedure, which allows for more precision in lens removal and gives surgeons the opportunity to treat corneal astigmatism at the time of cataract surgery.

Schedule an Appointment at USC Roski Eye Institute Today

Please contact our USC Roski Eye Institute cataract specialists today if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above. 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!
References

  • Richter GM et al. Prevalence of Visually Significant Cataract and Factors Associated with Unmet Need for Cataract Surgery: Los Angeles Latino Eye Study. Ophthalmology. 2009, 116: 2327-2335.
  • https://nei.nih.gov/health/cataract/cataract_facts

Harmful UV Light Can Cause Eye Damage & Blindness

What do all of these conditions have in common? UV light, UVA, UVB and UVC, is powerful radiation from the sun that can damage your eyes.

Type of Ocular Condition Image
Photokeratitis– Caused by swelling of the cornea, outer most aspect of the eye, results in redness, swelling, blurred vision and pain.
Pinguecula– Often referred to as surfer’s eye, white or yellow raised bumps are found on the conjunctiva, or white part of the eye.
Pterygium– This growth extends beyond the conjunctiva and on to the cornea, and many require surgery. This condition is often found in those who live closer to the equator.
Cataracts– As the leading cause of preventable blindness, this condition which can be removed surgically, results in a cloudiness of the lens of the eye and cause blurred vision, halos of light, poor vision at night, among other symptoms.
Macular Degeneration– With no known cure, this retinal degenerative disease results in central vision loss, where those diagnosed are unable to drive, read or even recognize faces.
Skin Cancer– Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma are all examples of skin cancers. Most are found on the lower lid. 5-10% of all skin cancers are melanomas.
Eye Cancer– Eye cancers include intraocular melanoma and conjunctival melanoma. While rare, conjunctival melanoma has become more common, with 10% prevalence among white men.

Tips to Protect Your Eyes from the Sun and Prevent Sun Damage!

  • Ensure you purchase sunglasses with the UV protection label
  • Make sure they fit well to prevent exposure to residual sunlight
  • Bring a pair with you wherever you go!

UV damage can lead to serious skin and eye cancer. Looks for lumps or bumps, pigmentation, elevated growths, bleeding, etc. Any of these symptoms could be a sign of melanoma.

Schedule an Appointment at USC Roski Eye Institute Today

Please contact our USC Roski ocular oncology team today if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above. 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!

Sunglasses, Sunglasses, Sunglasses!

A great pair of sunglasses goes a long way! We have two conveniently located optical shops on campus to help you find your perfect pair. No appointment necessary! If you’re looking for prescription sunglasses, our on-site lab can have your lenses ready in as little as 24 hours!

Crossed Eyes (Strabismus) – Causes and Treatments – A Q&A with Dr. Patel

Harand before and after

What is Strabismus?

Michael-strab testimonial

Strabismus is a general term used to describe any misalignment of the eyes. It can occur in the context of childhood eye diseases (amblyopia or “lazy eye), or problems acquired in adulthood, including trauma, thyroid eye disease, nerve damage, or neurological disorders. Strabismus can be very debilitating, mainly from double vision. Importantly, strabismus can be an early sign of severe ocular, orbital or neurological disease.

What Causes Crossed Eyes in Children?

In some cases strabismus can be inherited (congenital) or result from vision-related problems. In addition, since approximately half of the brain is involved in vision, certain neurological conditions can also cause strabismus, resulting from disordered communication between the brain and the muscles that move the eyes. Vision in children is highly sensitive to refractive errors (nearsightedness and farsightedness) and may also cause strabismus if left untreated.

What Causes Crossed Eyes in Adults?

Like in children, strabismus in adults can be inherited and may worsen over time. As such, we have helped many adults who have had complications or recurrences despite previous strabismus surgeries in the past. Adult strabismus may also result from neurological conditions such as stroke, tumors, degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, to name a few. We specialize in evaluating the nature and cause of strabismus in adults, as well as developing an appropriate plan for intervention.

What Treatments are Available for Strabismus?

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Children and adults may be treated differently. In children, strabismus can often be corrected using eye patching, eyeglasses, vision therapy and surgery. In adults, special lenses such as prisms can correct or improve double vision in some cases; however, surgery may also be required to correct the misalignment. Over the past few decades, strabismus surgery has advanced considerably. Here at USC we have the necessary experience and expertise to address even the most complex cases, using the latest techniques and up-to-date practices.

USC Roski Eye Institute Neuro-Ophthalmology and Adult Strabismus Service

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Vivek R. Patel, MD, is an Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology, Director of Neuro-Ophthalmology Service and Adult Strabismus specialist. He is also co-principal investigator for a $4 million grant from the National Eye Institute (NEI), leading a multidisciplinary team of investigators studying the relationship between the brain and blinding eye diseases.

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Kimberly K. Gokoffski, MD, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology and Adult Strabismus specialist. Her doctoral work and current active research investigations focus on exploring the use of electrical fields to guide regenerating nerves in the context of optic nerve disease. She is funded by the NEI’s K-grant system of mentored original research.

Schedule an Appointment at USC Roski Eye Institute Today

Please contact our USC Roski adult strabismus team today to treat misalignment of your eyes or double vision. 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 a new funding initiative for children’s strabismus surgery or for donations, please contact Rebecca Melville, senior director of development, via email at Rebecca.Melville@med.usc.edu or by calling USC Roski Eye Institute.