About Laser and Traditional Cataract Surgery
Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgical procedure in the United States and is considered extremely safe and successful. If your vision is cloudy or not as clear as it once was, cataract surgery may be necessary. At Kirk Eye Center, we offer both traditional cataract surgery and laser cataract surgery. Both procedures are safe, effective and offer you the chance to regain your clear vision.
To learn more about cataract surgery and your candidacy for the procedure, please contact Kirk Eye Center today. You can schedule an appointment at either office by completing the form on this page. We welcome patients from throughout the Chicago area, including Cicero.
What Are Cataracts?
A cataract is a common condition in which the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. Cataracts are a normal part of aging and they usually develop slowly over a period of time. Once a cataract begins to form, it gradually grows opaque, causing blurry, dim and faded vision that gets progressively worse over time. Left untreated, cataracts can eventually lead to blindness.
There are several misconceptions about cataracts. Cataracts are not:
- A cause of irreversible blindness
- Spread from one eye to another
- Caused by overusing the eyes
- A film over the eye
What Causes Cataracts?
The lens of your eye is transparent so that light can easily pass through it. It is 65 percent water and has no blood supply. Although new cells for the lens are being continuously created throughout your lifetime, several factors combine as you age to cause areas in the lens to become cloudy, hard, and dense. When this happens, the lens can no longer transmit a crisp picture to the retina where it can be processed and delivered through the optic nerve to the brain.
If you live long enough, you will likely develop cataracts to some degree. Age-related cataracts are the most common kinds of cataracts. However, certain factors can speed up the clouding of your eye’s lens, such as:
- Family history
- Injury to the eye
- Medical problems, such as diabetes
- Sun exposure
- High blood pressure
Types Of Cataracts
There are different classifications of cataracts that can form in your eye’s lens. The primary distinctions that classify the various manifestations of cataracts are origin and location.
Location-Related Cataract Classifications
Classifications based on the location of the cataract on your eye’s lens include:
- Nuclear sclerotic cataract: Age-related nuclear cataracts are common. They are caused by the gradual yellowing and hardening of the nucleus, the central area of your eye’s lens.
- Cortical cataract: This cataract produces cloudiness on the cortex, the outer area of the eye’s lens. A cortical cataract can be compared to spokes on a wheel that reach toward the nucleus of the lens. Light scatters when it hits these “spokes.”
- Posterior subcapsular cataract: This type of cataract forms along the capsule that encases the lens of your eye, on the back of the lens. Posterior subcapsular cataracts can cause light sensitivity, blurry near vision and the appearance of halos.
Origin-Related Cataract Classifications
Cataract classifications based on the condition’s root cause include:
- Age-related cataract: Usually affecting people in their 60s or 70s, this is a very common type of cataract.
- Secondary cataract: This type of cataract can emerge after eye surgery. Secondary cataracts are most common in patients who have had surgery to treat glaucoma or certain retinal issues. They can also emerge after steroid use.
- Congenital cataract: In rare instances, even infants can get cataracts. While mild cases may not significantly affect vision, sever instances could require cataract surgery. Left untreated, other conditions such as strabismus or amblyopia could develop.
- Radiation cataract: Ultraviolet light and other forms of radiation lead to cataracts in rare situations.
- Traumatic cataract: A traumatic eye injury can cause the development of cataracts in some cases. Some develop almost immediately following an injury while other formations can take years. They are often caused by chemical exposure and blunt trauma.
About Laser Cataract Surgery
What Is Laser Cataract Surgery?
Many of the steps of traditional cataract surgery are performed with handheld instruments. Now, Dr. Kirk can use a femtosecond laser to create precise incisions, including the circular opening for accessing and removing the cataract. The opening is exceptionally accurate and results in a near perfect circle. Once the opening is created, the laser can break down and fragment the hardened cataract into minuscule pieces, allowing for easier, gentler cataract removal than in traditional procedures. Following the removal of your deteriorated natural lens, a new intraocular lens (IOL) is implanted, restoring your clear vision.
Your Laser Cataract Surgery Procedure
At Kirk Eye Center’s state-of-the-art on-site surgical facility, we use the Catalys Precision Laser System for our bladeless cataract procedures. Catalys is an incredibly precise instrument that can be customized to each patient. Laser surgery produces little to no discomfort during the procedure and offers a more rapid recovery than can be achieved through the traditional method. You will experience a gentle cataract removal, less inflammation and may have a reduced potential for requiring glasses or contacts after surgery.
Typically, the process involves:
- Before surgery: Prior to your surgery, you will undergo an eye exam to determine which IOL prescription will work best for your unique needs. Dr. Kirk will explain all of your lens options and help you determine which IOL best matches your needs and possibly eliminate the need for glasses after your procedure.
Once you have checked in on the day of your surgery, you will be taken to a room and given drops to prepare your eye for surgery. You will be given sedation to ensure you are relaxed during the procedure. Most patients feel sleepy and at ease during the surgery.
- During Surgery: Every eye is unique and varies in shape and size. To customize your treatment, we will build a 3D map of your eye using CATALYS’ advanced 3D imaging system. This will allow Dr. Kirk to tailor a treatment plan that matches the unique qualities of your eye.
No needles are used at all during your surgery; eye drops are used to completely numb the eye and sedation ensures you won’t be wide awake during the procedure. Dr Kirk will then use the CATALYS femtosecond laser to create a circular opening in the eye to access and remove the cataract. When performed with the CATALYS laser instead of a handheld instrument, this opening is approximately ten times more accurate. The laser softens and breaks up the hard cataract. Once the deteriorated natural lens is removed, Dr. Kirk will implant your IOL, which will restore clear vision again.
- After surgery: Your laser cataract surgery is a quick procedure. You will spend a short time resting in our facility before you are ready to be driven home. You may experience some mild discomfort and blurry vision immediately after your surgery, but this will quickly subside. Most patients see improvement the day following their procedure. If you suffer from cataracts in both eyes, your second surgery will most likely take place in a week or two.
Bladeless Cataract Surgery Recovery
Recovery after cataract surgery is generally quite quick, and the majority of our patients notice improved vision the day after surgery. Some common post-surgery symptoms can include:
- Blurry vision
- Mild discomfort
- Light sensitivity
- Fluid discharge
At Kirk Eye Center, we do not use patching and do not restrict activities following your cataract surgery. Dr. Kirk may prescribe antibiotic eye drops to lower the risk of infection and anti-inflammatory eye drops to reduce inflammation. For most patients, all discomfort is gone and normal daily activities can resume after 24 hours. Recovery times can vary from patient to patient, so speak with Dr. Kirk if you have any questions about what you can expect.
Femtosecond Laser Cataract Surgery vs. Traditional Surgery
Benefits Of Femtosecond Laser Cataract Surgery Vs. Traditional Cataract Surgery
In any cataract surgery, an impaired natural lens of the eye is removed and replaced with an artificial lens. At Kirk Eye Center, your cataract surgery can be performed in two ways: with a laser or a hand-held instrument. While both methods can quickly produce clear vision with minimal discomfort, the main differences between the two procedures are:
- Laser cataract surgery does not require a blade. Conventional cataract surgery involves using a hand-held instrument to make an incision manually in your cornea. Once the incision is made, the replacement lens is implanted. Bladeless cataract surgery utilizes a laser to create the opening through which the natural lens of the eye is removed and the new lens is inserted.
- Laser cataract surgery offers greater precision and accuracy. Clinical studies have shown that an opening made with a laser instead of a handheld blade is approximately ten times more accurate. Lasers can also be used to treat an irregular-shaped cornea (astigmatism).
- Laser cataract surgery has a reduced risk of complications. While both cataract surgery methods are relatively painless and offer a speedy recovery time, laser cataract surgery is more precise and takes less time to complete. This improves recovery time and lowers the risk of complications.
The Catalys Precision Laser System
Simply put, the Catalys Precision Laser System is among the best technology available today for femtosecond laser cataract surgery. It can restore clarity and brightness to your vision with stunning precision, accuracy and safety. In laser cataract surgery, it is used for:
- The corneal incision
- The anterior capsulotomy
- Lens and cataract fragmentation
Is Surgery The Only Cataracts Treatment Option?
Many people develop cataracts, but not everyone needs surgery. Sometimes an adjustment in eye glasses can improve vision or delay the need for surgery. However, cataract surgery should be considered if the cataract produces symptoms that impair your daily activities.
The best way to know if cataract surgery is right for you is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kirk and undergo a thorough eye exam.
"Great overall experience with my Lasik procedure for both my eyes. Dr. Kirk & the staff were fantastic throughout the entire process. I'm so pumped that I don't have to wear contacts or glasses ever again!"- B.M. / Google / Jun 19, 2020
"Although I am fairly young, for some reason my eyes started to develop cataracts. Getting to a point when driving my car became a dangerous adventure, after a thorough search on internet I have opted for cataract surgery at Kirk Eye Center. I wasn’t disappointed, everything there was top notch! Starting from the receptionists to the nurses, I was always treated in a very professional and courteous manner. Many thanks to Ms Joyce Wolter, the surgery manager who helped me going through all the paperwork and dealed with my insurance! She made everything look easy to me! All my life since childhood I’ve had poor vision but now after my right eye surgery I have 20/20 vision! It feels like I am reborn, all these vibrant colors and multitude of details I have never been aware before! Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Dr Scott Kirk! You gave me the best gift! We all take for granted the vision and we realize that only after we lose it! Note: I have opted for premium IOL’s, I wanted for my eyes the best I can get. They are quite expensive and not covered by insurance, but I can personally state that they worth every penny! I cannot wait for the left eye surgery a week from today!"- G.R. / Google / Sep 22, 2022
"Dr Kent Kirk and the entire staff are amazing.They are caring, well organized and I had a fantastic resultMy sight in my right eye went from just barely being able to see the big E on the eye chart to 20/25 visionJust incredible!!!Thank you Dr Kent Kirk and staff I could not be happier Getting ready to do my second cataract surgery and I would NOT use anyone else but Kirk Eye Care!!!They know what they are doing and do eye care extremely well!!"- I.D. / Yelp / Sep 13, 2022
"I don’t think words can express the gratitude I feel towards Dr. Kirk and his incredible office and surgical staff for all that they did for me. I had ICL surgery done last month and it has been life changing. Dr. Kirk was informative, helpful and answered every single question I had before and after surgery. The timing of my recovery overlapped with some personal plans, and Dr. Kirk and his staff went out of their way to still schedule my first few appointments on days and/or times that they don’t normally schedule patients in order to ensure that everything looked and felt good after the procedure. I couldn’t believe how kind and thoughtful they all were. Not only am I still in awe of having perfect vision again, I will forever be grateful to Kirk Eye Center for everything they did for me. I highly recommend Dr. Kirk and the ICL surgery!"- K.S. / Yelp / Sep 02, 2022
"As a new patient, I had my first opportunity to visit the Gurnee, IL office of ophthalmologist, Dr. Tyler Quentin Kirk. It took some weeks to get the appointment, but I waited patiently and was rewarded this morning with a sense of calm that let me know I was in the right place. From the welcoming voices on the phone and at the front door; during my exams and explanations; to our good-byes, I would like to thank Dr. Kirk and his wonderful staff. Janely, my 'first responder,' with whom I spent the most time, and all the other girls who assisted me or with whom I interacted: Miki, Mary, Val, Wendy, and Julissa. Hope to see you soon."- B.K. / Google / Sep 01, 2022
How Much Does Cataract Surgery Cost?
The cost of cataract surgery varies from patient to patient, based on a number of factors, such as:
- Whether you choose laser cataract surgery or traditional cataract surgery
- The type of IOL you choose
- The number of eyes needing treatment.
During your consultation with Dr. Kirk, he will discuss all of your options and explain what costs you can expect to pay based on the type of procedure and IOL you choose.
Schedule Your Cataract Surgery Consultation Today
Don’t postpone crisp, clear vision for another day. To schedule a cataract surgery consultation at our office in River Forest or Gurnee, please give us a call. We proudly serve Cicero and the greater Chicago area.
Can Too Much Sunlight Speed up Cataract Development?
The UV radiation from the sun can damage the proteins in the eye's lens, contributing to the formation of cataracts.Read
Can Cataracts Cause Nearsighted Vision?
In some cases, cataracts can cause nearsighted vision, but if left untreated, they can lead to further vision loss and, eventually, blindness.Read
Should You Fast Before Cataract Surgery?
It may be necessary to fast for a certain period prior to cataract surgery, though we can offer more specific details after your consultation.Read
When is Laser Assisted Cataract Surgery Needed?
When cataracts have reached a certain level of maturity, they must be removed via laser-assisted cataract surgery to restore vision and eye health.Read