July 31, 2013
Contact: Mary Ann Conover

August is National Cataract Awareness Month
Eye Center of La Jolla’s, Dr. Shervin Alborzian says younger people get cataracts, too!

La Jolla − When most people hear the word, “cataract,” an older person often comes to mind. Surprisingly, cataracts can begin earlier in life. According to the National Eye Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), persons can experience age-related cataracts in their 40s and 50s. In fact, Shervin Alborzian, MD, medical director of the Eye Center of La Jolla, has treated patients as young as age 20. Knowing cataracts don’t discriminate, Dr. Alborzian wants the public to understand what a cataract is, the early warning signs, and how we can protect our vision.

“The first sign of a cataract is blurry vision or glares when a person is driving at night,” explains Dr. Alborzian. “If a person is beginning to notice a change in the quality of how he or she sees things, I recommend an evaluation,” he continues. “The longer a person waits the more potential for complications.”

Dr. Alborzian adds that if the cataract is progressive (growing), then one can lose complete vision. In addition, larger cataracts tend to be more difficult to remove, and the surgery’s risk is greater. Still, the overall success rate remains above 95%. After performing over 800 cataract surgeries, Dr. Alborzian has seen all types of cataracts and stresses the importance of having one’s vision evaluated.

“The surgery is brief, about 20-30 minutes, and not painful,” says Dr. Alborzian. “I use the modern technique of topical anesthesia with eye drops only to dull the patient’s sensation instead of the traditional lidocaine needle injection into the ocular tissue for anesthesia. Recovery time varies, but is usually fairly quick. Patients needed to wear dark sunglasses for at least two weeks after the surgery.”

“Driving at night has become a joy again, “ said one patient at a post-operative visit, while another noticed “ how colors have become so vivid since surgery.” Dr. Alborzian adds, “when caught in time, cataract removal can restore vision that patients tend to think was lost to aging or injury.”

What is a cataract?

When asked how cataracts develop, Dr. Alborzian states that, “The lens lies behind the iris and the pupil. It works much like a camera lens. It focuses light onto the retina at the back of the eye, where an image is recorded. The lens also adjusts the eye's focus, letting us see things clearly both up close and far away. The lens is made of mostly water and protein. The protein is arranged in a precise way that keeps the lens clear and allows light pass through it.

“But as we age, some of the protein may clump together and start to cloud a small area of the lens. This is a cataract. Over time, the cataract may grow larger and cloud more of the lens, making it harder to see.”


According to the National Institutes of Health, researchers suspect that there are several causes of cataract, such as smoking and diabetes. Another reason: The protein in the lens just changes from the wear and tear it takes over the years.

To avoid or delay cataracts from developing, Dr. Alborzian recommends wearing sunglasses and a hat with a brim to block ultraviolet sunlight. Then he adds, “If you smoke, stop. Researchers also believe good nutrition can help reduce the risk of age-related cataracts. They recommend eating green leafy vegetables, fruit, and other foods with antioxidants.

“If you are age 60 or older, you should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once every two years,” continues Dr. Alborzian. “In addition to checking for cataracts, your eye care professional can check for signs of age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and other vision disorders. Early treatment for many eye diseases may save your sight.”

About the Eye Center of La Jolla

Shervin Alborzian, MD is the medical director of the Eye Center of La Jolla. Also on staff with Scripps Health, he specializes in comprehensive ophthalmology and serves as a topical anesthesia cataract surgeon. In addition to providing canaloplasty for the treatment of glaucoma, Dr. Alborzian is board certified to treat various illnesses of the eyes including diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. He is also a laser specialist and uses various ophthalmic lasers, including LASIK. His office is located at 9834 Genesee Ave, Suite 209, La Jolla. http://eyecenteroflajolla.com