Please help us congratulate our Medical Director, Emilio M. Justo, MD, who presented his first TEDx talk in Denver on Saturday, August 12, 2023 at the TEDxCherryCreekHS event! The title of his talk is:

Delayed Gratification: Your Superpower to Success

The TEDx Talk video is now live!  Please see the link below to view the full video, as well as photos of the event:

close-up of eye with cataracts

Cataracts: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Are cataracts interfering with your daily routine? Call us at (623) 975-2020 or request an appointment online

Light sensitivity, blurred vision, and double vision resulting from cataracts can interfere with your daily life and make several activities more difficult.

A cataract is a clouding of the eye's natural lens. At the Arizona Eye Institute & Cosmetic Laser Center in Phoenix, AZ, Dr. Emilio Justo can diagnose and treat cataracts to restore your quality of life.

How do you know if you have a cataract?

blurry picture of smiling child

Increasingly Blurry Vision

As the cataract spreads on your lens, your vision will become more and more blurry. Patients with cataracts may also notice double vision in a single eye, though this issue tends to dissipate as the cataract grows.

picture of children walking with one half in focus and the other half burry

Changes in Vision Quality

Cataracts impact several aspects of vision. Colors may begin to appear faded or dull. You may notice increased glare or halos around lights. It is also common for patients to develop light sensitivity or have trouble seeing at night.

clear eye chart through lenses surrounded by blurry letters

Frequent Prescription Changes

Cataracts are a progressive condition. The larger the cataract grows, the more vision issues develop. You may need to repeatedly update your prescription to accommodate vision loss.

Let's explore what a cataract is...

When a cataract is present, light entering the eye becomes scattered, resulting in blurred vision. 
Healthy eye versus cataract

A Closer Look at Cataracts

The crystalline lens of your eye lies behind the iris (the colored part) and focuses light onto the retina - a membrane located at the back of your eye that captures and records images like camera film. Cataracts are characterized by the clouding of the crystalline lens, obstructing the light entering the eye.

View Video

Understanding Your Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of cataracts can vary dramatically between patients. One of the first indicators of age-related cataracts is a loss of clarity when reading street signs, or print on the television. The appearance of glare, halos, or starbursts around streetlights and oncoming headlights when driving at night are common symptoms of faster-growing subcapsular cataracts. 

If you have noticed cataract symptoms, contact our office immediately to undergo a thorough eye examination. 

If you have not already been tested, early diagnosis allows Dr. Justo to carefully monitor your condition, and discuss appropriate treatment options as cataracts progress. Cataracts develop over a number of years, and constant monitoring can guard against irreversible damage or complications.

Wondering whether you are at risk for cataracts?

Certain Lifestyle Factors Increase the Risk of Cataracts

There are a variety of medical conditions and lifestyle choices which can make you more likely to develop cataracts.

Some common risk factors include:

  • Diabetes
  • Severe nearsightedness (myopia)
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation
  • Obesity
  • Long-term corticosteroid use
  • Previous eye surgery or injuries
  • A family history of cataracts

So what actually causes a cataract to form?

The Most Common Cause of Cataracts Is Natural Aging

The natural aging process is usually to blame for the development of cataracts. However, injury, disease, use of steroids, and genetic predisposition can also lead to cataracts. Dr. Justo has been diagnosing cataracts at Arizona Eye Institute & Cosmetic Laser Center for many years and can identify the cause as well as the best treatment for your cataracts.

Potential causes of cataracts include:

close-up of eye surrounded by skin with wrinkles

Natural Aging

As your eyes age, the lenses lose their flexibility and become thicker and less transparent. The lens tissues break down, and its proteins cluster together to create a clouding effect. 

close-up of man's eye

Ultraviolet Light

Exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) radiation can overcome the natural defenses of your eye, which are designed to protect your vision, and eventually lead to cataracts.

pills in blister packaging


Long-term use of corticosteroids has been classified as a leading cause of cataracts. Studies show that other medications used to treat skin disorders such as psoriasis, psychosis, and glaucoma may be contributing to the development of cataracts.

glucose test strip next to drop of blood on finger

Diabetes and Other Diseases

Patients with diabetes are 60% more likely to develop cataracts. Glaucoma and the surgeries and medications used to treat it can significantly increase your chances of developing cataracts. Uveitis is a rare condition that carries a high risk of cataracts.

close-up of a face with one eye covered by patch of gauze


Blunt-force trauma, or a penetrating injury to the eye, can increase your risk for cataracts. Traumatic cataracts can be particularly challenging to treat, but detailed examinations and a carefully managed treatment plan can lead to excellent results.

Wondering whether you need treatment?

Without Treatment, Cataracts Will Continue to Worsen

infographic of cataracts statistics

*According to the Nobel Vision Group

How do we find out if you have the condition?

Detecting Cataracts

Regular checkups with your eye doctor are as important to your health as annual physicals and routine dental cleanings. By coming in to see Dr. Justo once a year for an examination, you are giving us a chance to detect any changes in your ocular health before they become more severe.

With some of the best techniques and technologies available today, our team of specialists can assess your symptoms quickly, and formulate a treatment plan that addresses your needs. Dr. Justo has many years of experience diagnosing cataracts.

Woman undergoing slit lamp exam

What to Expect during Your Appointment

Visual Acuity Test

The visual acuity test is one of the most easily recognizable tests in the eye care field. The visual acuity test consists of a big poster of letters in various sizes. Designed to measure the strength of one eye at a time, this test helps Dr. Justo recognize inconsistencies in your vision and determine whether you have cataracts.

Slit-lamp Examination

The slit lamp is a tool that illuminates your cornea, iris, and lens with intense light. Dr. Justo uses this light to examine the small structures of your eye and detect even the smallest abnormalities that may be signs of cataracts.

Contrast Sensitivity

Similar to a visual acuity test, this test gauges your capacity to perceive contrast in spite of your cataracts. Contrast sensitivity is often considered a more realistic measurement of vision quality.

Pupil Dilation

Pupil dilation is a very common test, used during annual eye examinations as well as for cataract diagnosis. Until cataracts reach a more advanced stage, the clouding of your lens is not immediately noticeable. Dr. Justo will dilate your pupils using drops that cause the iris to widen, granting him a clear view of the back of your eye.

Special Circumstances

There are various types of cataracts, and not all are caused by the natural aging process. Health problems such as diabetes, traumatic injury, and long-term use of corticosteroids are some of the common sources of cataract development. The diagnostic process for these types of cataracts may vary. In certain cases, children can be born with congenital cataracts; if your child seems to be having difficulties with his or her vision, we advise you bring them in for an evaluation.

Individualized Consultation

At Arizona Eye Institute & Cosmetic Laser Center, we pride ourselves on our personalized approach to each patient's treatment. By spending quality time with you during a one-on-one consultation, Dr. Justo can ensure that your care is tailored to your needs. Between diagnostic and pre-operative testing, you can rest assured that you will be well-informed and prepared by the time your cataract surgery is scheduled.

While cataracts cannot be prevented, you can reduce your risk...

woman snapping cigarette in half

Avoid Smoking and Drinking in Excess

Studies show that the more you drink or smoke in excess, the greater your chances of developing cataracts.

table of produce items

Maintain a Healthy Diet

Consuming foods rich in vitamins and minerals, especially antioxidants, can help prevent certain eye diseases.

man wearing sunglasses

Minimize UV Exposure

Since UV light can increase your risk of cataracts, using proper eye protection can minimize issues.

Wondering what steps to take right now?

A lifetime of healthy vision is the best way to ensure long-term superior quality of life, and scheduling annual eye exams is the only way to make that happen. Cataract surgery is common, safe, and can be individualized to your needs and your desired vision results. Founder & Medical Director Emilio M. Justo, M.D.

Surgery Is the Only Way to Completely Eliminate Cataracts

While there are some steps you can take to manage your symptoms, the only way to truly restore your vision is to replace the clouded lens.

During cataract surgery, the clouded lens of your eye will be removed and replaced with an intraocular lens (IOL), a synthetic crystalline lens. We are equipped to help you achieve clear vision no matter what development stage your cataracts have reached.

How Much Does Cataract Surgery Cost?

The procedure is typically covered by insurance or Medicare. If neither is available to you, we also accept financing through CareCredti®. Personalized aspects of your procedure and certain characteristics of your practitioner may affect your overall cost.

Factors That May Not Be Covered by Insurance

Type of IOL

If you choose to receive a premium IOL, it will increase the cost of your procedure. However, monofocal IOLs are covered by insurance.

Read More

Surgical Center

Your procedure will be performed at our state-of-the-art surgical facility. As such, you receive the highest level of care by Dr. Justo and his team.

Read More
ORA cataract system machinery and monitor

Advanced Technology

We use the latest technology to diagnose your condition as well as plan and perform your treatment for increased precision and reduced risk of complications.

Financing Is Available

To manage your out-of-pocket expenses, you can apply for CareCredit financing. Financing makes treatment more affordable for patients who wish to receive premium IOLs or cannot pay in full right away. CareCredit allows you to make monthly payments with low interest rates. It is our hope that this can help prevent the need to postpone surgery and ensure you receive the care you need in a timely manner.

woman accepting credit card payment

Not ready for surgery?

There Are Methods Other for Managing Your Symptoms

Sight is a precious asset. Unfortunately, vision loss and impairment are facts of life. In some cases, patients can achieve clear vision in spite of cataract symptoms by making changes to their day-to-day life.

Some methods for managing cataract symptoms include:

woman wearing glasses

Corrective Eyewear

Updating your glasses or contacts prescription can help you see more clearly. However, without surgery, your vision will continue to deteriorate.

man installing lighting in drop ceiling

Better Lighting

Cataracts make it very difficult to see clearly without sufficient light. Improving the lighting in your home or office can make daily tasks easier.

man using magnifying glass to read book

Different Lenses

Another method you can adopt is carrying magnifying glasses or using anti-glare sunglasses. These types of lenses can compensate for some of the symptoms of cataracts.

Listen to Frances' experience at our practice...

Video: Frances after Cataract Surgery

In this refractive cataract surgery review, Frances Paulsma describes her life-changing cataract surgery and upper eyelid blepharoplasty experience. The surgery improved her vision and she no longer even needs to wear glasses. She could not be more pleased with her successful cataract surgery.

Individualized Treatment Plans

Each member of our team is handpicked for their training and education, and their compassionate approach to care. We focus on patient education, and work cooperatively with our patients to develop realistic expectations. We understand no two eyes are alike, and create truly personalized treatment plans to meet your unique healthcare needs. 

View Video

Candidacy for Cataract Surgery

Deciding when surgery is right for you is a highly personal choice. In its earliest stages, the effects of cataracts can be offset using conservative treatment methods, like strengthening your glasses or contact lens prescription. Most of our patients begin seriously considering surgery when vision loss impairs their ability to comfortably or safely perform everyday activities, like driving at night.

You are most likely a good candidate for cataract surgery if you:

  • Have been diagnosed with cataracts
  • Experience moderate to severe visual impairment that is unresponsive to previously recommended treatment
  • Have no additional pre-existing eye disorders or diseases, like macular degeneration
  • Are in good general health

During an examination with Dr. Justo, you can learn more about whether you are suitable for this safe, effective procedure. 

Video: Cataract Surgery

Dr. Emilio Justo describes cataract surgery, its benefits and the steps involved in the procedure. This procedure is used to treat the clouding of the natural lens of the eye called cataracts. When left untreated, cataracts can lead to blindness, so it's essential to seek Dr. Justo's help if you're having trouble seeing clearly.
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Arizona Eye Institute & Cosmetic Laser Center

Ophthalmologist and plastic surgeon Emilio Justo founded Arizona Eye Institute & Cosmetic Laser Center in 1989. With locations in Sun City West, Sun City, and Wickenburg, AZ, we help patients from the Phoenix area and beyond improve and maintain their vision through quality eye care. Our doctors are affiliated with prestigious organizations, including:

  • The American Board of Ophthalmology
  • The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery
  • The American Academy of Ophthalmology
  • The Arizona Medical Association
  • The Arizona Ophthalmological Society
  • The Phoenix Ophthalmological Society

To request a consultation, please fill out our online form or call (623) 975-2020.

Contact Us Today

Over the years, many people have asked me my secret… The answer is simple – I listen carefully and attentively.
Dr. Emilio Justo

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