Charles D. Fritch MD,
FACS, is a renowned
ophthalmologist, founder
of Fritch Eye Care Medical
Center, and Medical
Director of a fully equipped
Ambulatory Center.

Fritch Eye Care Medical Center
8501 Brimhall Road, Suite 401 & 402
Bakersfield, CA 93312
Tel: 661-665-2020



Cataracts and Cataract Surgery in Bakersfield

The physicians and surgeons of Fritch Eye Care Center are committed to providing the best medical care for each Bakersfield cataract patient. They combine innovative cataract surgical techniques and state-of-the-art technology to ensure each cataract surgery patient achieves optimum visual results. In the page below, the surgeons of Fritch Eye Care Center answer some questions frequently asked about cataracts and cataract surgery by Bakersfield, Visalia and Fresno patients.

What are Cataracts?

When the crystalline lens of the eye loses its transparency, this condition is called a cataract. Light readily passes through a normally clear lens, producing a sharp image on the retina; when the lens becomes cloudy, light can't pass through as easily and vision is impaired. Having a cataract is like trying to look through a foggy window.

Cataracts occur most commonly among people over 55. Twenty-three percent of those over age 75 are affected by cataracts. On a global basis, cataracts account for over one-half of all cases of impaired vision and affect over 20 million people.

Note: In the normal eye, the lens is clear allowing light to pass through and produce a sharp image on the retina. A cataract is a clouding of the lens which disrupts the transmission of light to the retina.

What Causes the Development of Cataracts?

Chemical changes within the protein of the lens cause clouding and yellowish or brown discoloration. While chemical changes seem to be part of the natural aging process, cataracts may also be caused by injury, inherited tendencies, diseases, birth defects, poor nutrition, and certain drugs.

There is growing evidence that exposure to ultraviolet light (sunlight) and cigarette smoking may speed cataract development. Avoiding excessive sun exposure and smoking is a sound preventive measure.

How Do Cataracts Affect Sight?

The cataract-clouded lens blocks light, casting a blurred image on the retina. This cloudiness may affect a part or all of the lens.

The degree to which a person's vision is affected by cataract formation depends on the location and degree of clouding. For instance, if the clouding starts on the side of the lens, vision may not be drastically affected for years, because peripheral vision is not used as much as central vision.

What is the Treatment for Cataracts?

A comprehensive eye health examination can detect cataract formation. After diagnosis, regular follow-up care is needed to assure the best possible correction for the level of impairment.

In the early stages, prescription glasses can help you see better. In time, however, cataracts may become so dense that good vision can no longer be maintained with prescription eyewear. At that time, surgery may be the best option to restore vision.

Deciding when to have a cataract removed depends on a number of factors; the extent of clouding, the location of the cataract, the extent to which normal daily activities are impaired. For instance, if reading or driving abilities are impaired, surgery may be elected sooner than if such impairments have not yet been noticed.

What Does Cataract Surgery Involve?

Because only one eye is operated on at a time, the more impaired eye is usually done first. Surgery is often timed so that one eye has adequate vision while the surgical eye heals.

When the clouded lens is removed during cataract surgery, it is often replaced with an artificial lens implant (known as an intraocular lens implant or IOL). Eyeglasses and contact lenses are other forms of lens "replacement." However, since these replacements are not within the eye itself, vision is not as natural.  Lasers are not used to remove cataracts.

Sometimes cataract removal does not result in complete improvement in vision because sight depends on other factors such as the "health" of the retina, which may be impaired also.


Posterior Capsulotomy (Yag Laser)

What is a posterior capsulotomy?

Posterior capsulotomy is a surgical procedure which is sometimes necessary after cataract.  Cataract surgery is performed when the lens of the eye, which focuses light rays, becomes cloudy.  When it interferes with vision, it is called a cataract and the treatment is to remove the cloudy lens surgically.

What does the capsule have to do with cataract surgery?

The lens has cellophane-like outer lining called the capsule.  The most common method of cataract surgery leaves the back or posterior part of the capsule intact after the rest of the lens is removed.

This technique maintains the normal barrier between the inside compartments of the eye.  The back part of the capsule may be used to support the intraocular lens implant, usually inserted at the time of cataract surgery.

What is a posterior capsulotomy necessary?

The posterior capsule is normally clear.  However, with the passage of time after cataract surgery, this capsule can itself become cloudy or wrinkled.  It acts much like a piece of cellophane, which is easy to see through when stretch tight, but which causes blurred vision when wrinkled.  This wrinkling or cloudiness can interfere with vision in ways similar to the original cataract.

If clouding of the posterior capsule interferes with your vision, your ophthalmologist may surgically make an opening in the capsule to again restore normal sight.

This can be done with laser surgery.  It is not necessary to remove the capsule, but only to make an opening in the center to allow the clear passage of light rays.  Although the laser procedure requires close and precise focusing by the ophthalmologist, for the patient the technique is usually painless and generally works quickly.

While posterior capsulotomy is usually effective, as with any surgical procedure, rare complications can occur such as swelling or detachment of the retina, and loss of vision.

When should a capsulotomy be performed?

If your best vision diminishes after cataract surgery it is important to consult your ophthalmologist.  A capsulotomy may be recommended when your vision bothers you enough and your ophthalmologist feels the capsule is at fault.

May people may eventually need a capsulotomy after cataract surgery, especially younger people.  The need for a capsulotomy should not cause you worry, since the clouding or wrinkling is part of the body’s normal healing process in some patients.

Why are regular eye examinations important for everyone?
Eye disease can strike at any age.  Many eye diseases do not cause symptoms until disease has done damage.  Since most blindness is preventable if diagnosed and treated early, regular medical examinations by an ophthalmologist are very important.

Fritch Eye Care Center are also Bakersfield LASIK and glaucoma specialists. They use cutting-edge technology and offer superior patient-focused care to ensure quality results. To learn more about LASIK vision correction or glaucoma treatment, please visit our glaucoma and LASIK pages.

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The physicians of Fritch Eye Care Center specialize in treating Fresno LASIK, glaucoma, and cataracts patients. Using cutting-edge technology in their state-of-the-art medical facilities, these Drs. are considered to be specialists in their field.

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