• Senior couple taking selfie


Welcome to the Cataract Education Center

Cataracts are a very common vision condition, affecting millions of people around the world. Nearly every person over the age of 60 (and, sometimes, those who are younger) will face blurry or cloudy vision due to cataracts. Valley Eye Associates has built a comprehensive cataract program featuring the most advanced diagnostic and treatment options to restore your vision.

After exploring our Cataract Education Center, contact us to schedule your Cataract Examination to learn more about your eyes, cataracts, and your options at Valley Eye Associates.

Cataract Examination

During your Cataract Examination, our doctors will answer any questions you may have and assess your options for improving your vision.

What Is a Cataract?

A cataract refers to clouding or “browning” of the natural lens in your eye as you age. Some people develop only small cataracts throughout their entire life, while others may develop significant cataracts at a much younger age. For most people, cataracts will begin to affect the quality of their vision sometime after age 80.

For many people, the onset of their cataracts happens slowly over time, making them unaware of just how cloudy their vision has become. Colors become less vivid, night vision is difficult, and everything may appear blurry or cloudy. Once a cataract has developed, it will continue to darken and further impair your vision and the activities you enjoy.

Once a cataract reaches a certain stage, the only treatment option to restore your youthful vision is to work with a trusted surgeon to remove the cataract lens and replace it with an advanced, clear intraocular lens. The new lens implant will restore your vision (either with or without glasses).

If you would like to learn more about whether or not you may be eligible for cataract surgery, take our self-evaluation survey and we will send you more information about your options.

Normal Lens

Diagram of normal lens









Optic Nerve

Lens Affected by Cataracts

Diagram of lens affected by cataracts

Lens with cataract is severely clouded and distorts vision

High Definition Laser Cataract Surgery™

Cataract surgery has seen many advancements over the years, and cataract surgery today offers patients more vision options than even 10 years ago. For your cataract surgery, choosing the right surgeon, technology, lens, and team to care for your vision throughout the process is more important than ever. The team at Valley Eye Associates has performed over 55,000 surgical procedures over a combined 50 years of experience. Our expertise and commitment to excellence helps us provide a premium cataract surgery experience to all patients.

One of the most exciting innovations in cataract surgery was introduced to the United States in 2010 and was first brought to the Fox Valley by Valley Eye Associates. It’s called High Definition Laser Cataract Surgery (HDLCS), and it has changed the precision and accuracy of cataract surgery both in the Fox Valley and around the world.

In traditional cataract surgery, the surgeon will use a handheld blade to make the initial small incisions in the eye to gain access to the cataract. This traditional method results in an incision that is slightly larger and less precise than a laser incision. In addition, the traditional incision requires a slightly longer recovery time and does not offer your surgeon the ability to correct for astigmatism.

In HDLCS, your surgeon will use a femtosecond laser for the important initial steps of your cataract procedure. The laser creates a smaller, more precise incision in the eye and will assist your surgeon in removing the cloudy lens with less impact on your eye. This results in quicker recovery time and more precision than ever before.

As an added benefit, HDLCS can allow your surgeon to treat astigmatism as part of your cataract surgery, which can further improve your vision outcome. Our goal with HDLCS is to make you less dependent on glasses and contact lenses.

Cataract surgery continues to improve and evolve, and whether you choose blade surgery or High Definition Laser Cataract Surgery from Valley Eye Associates, our goal is to achieve the best possible result.

High Definition Laser Cataract Surgery™ logo
Dr. Jennifer Unger performing a cataract examination

Live Cataract Seminar

Want to learn more about High Definition Laser Cataract Surgery? Join us for our next Live Cataract Seminar with Dr. Michael Vrabec at Pinnacle Cataract & Laser Institute.

Intraocular Lens Implant (IOL) Options

Choosing the type of cataract surgery (laser vs. blade) you want to receive is the first important decision you need to make for your cataract procedure, but it’s not the only one! There are more IOL options available than ever before, and choosing the proper IOL for your vision goals and lifestyle will ensure you are completely satisfied with the outcome of your cataract surgery.

In addition to our premier High Definition Laser Cataract Surgery™ program, Valley Eye Associates offers a full menu of the most advanced and innovative IOLs available today. During your Cataract Examination, you’ll learn more about each of these lenses and which one might be the best fit for you.

Monofocal IOLs

A monofocal IOL is an advanced acrylic lens that focuses vision on a single point. This lens will allow you to see clearly at one distance and require you to wear glasses or contact lenses to see at other distances. Many people who choose this lens decide they want to see clearly at distance and wear reading glasses for up-close vision (cell phone) or intermediate vision (speedometer). Valley Eye Associates is proud to feature the TECNIS Monofocal lens and the Alcon Acrysof in its cataract program.


For patients with moderate or advanced astigmatism, the TORIC IOL is an excellent option when combined with HDLCS to achieve clear vision at one distance (usually far) without glasses or contact lenses.

Multifocal IOLs

A multifocal lens is a premium clear lens that features concentric focus rings, allowing you to focus and see clearly at multiple distances after surgery. The goal of a multifocal lens is to help you see near, far, and everything in between to reduce or eliminate your need for glasses or contact lenses. Multifocal IOLs are a fantastic option for those willing to invest in lens technology for a more active and spectacle-free lifestyle.

Introducing the PanOptix® Multifocal IOL

New innovations in lens technology have led to the creation of a multifocal (trifocal) IOL option for your cataract surgery. PanOptix is the the first and only multifocal trifocal IOL approved for use in the U.S. and it has revolutionized cataract surgery results for our patients. 

Previous multifocal IOLs were based off a bifocal design, which meant one of the three distances we generally look at (far, intermediate, and near) would not be as clear as the other two. The PanOptix multifocal trifocal IOL addresses this problem through advanced optical re-engineering, which creates a multifocal IOL with none of the three distances being compromised. 

With the PanOptix lens, you can correct astigmatism with the toric version of the IOL. Schedule a Cataract Examination to learn whether the PanOptix trifocal IOL is right for you.

See Effortlessly
No blurry zones means you can see without straining to focus.

Discover High Definition
The PanOptix lens delivers all-around brighter, more vivid colors.

Sharpen Up
The PanOptix lens corrects and sharpens your vision, so you’re likely to wear glasses less often.

Stay in the Clear
Patients reported that they were less bothered by glare around bright lights.

Potential Side Effects: Due to the design of multifocal IOLs, there are some side effects that can be associated with them. These may be worse than with a monofocal IOL, including visual disturbances such as glare, rings around lights, starbursts (rays around light sources), and reduced contrast sensitivity (decrease in ability to distinguish objects from their background, especially in dim lighting). These side effects may make it more difficult to see while driving at night or completing tasks in low lighting conditions, such as at night or in fog or in a dimly lit room, after surgery as compared to before surgery. There is a chance that you still may need glasses for distance, intermediate, and/or near vision. You will get the full benefit of the multifocal IOL when it is placed in both eyes.

The ORA™ System

Featuring VerifEye+™ Technology

In addition to our advanced laser and lens technology, Valley Eye Associates is also a leader in offering the most advanced diagnostic measurement and surgical technology available today. These powerful technologies can assist your cataract surgeon in fine-tuning the accuracy and outcome of your cataract surgery.

Traditionally, cataract surgeons have needed to wait weeks after a cataract surgery is completed to fully measure the outcome of your procedure. Since 2012, an intraoperative innovation has allowed us to quickly and accurately achieve this same outcome measurement during your actual cataract procedure, which helps us optimize your procedure in real time, for more consistent results. This new technology is called ORA with VerifEye+. ORA is a powerful tool for improving your cataract surgery, and Dr. Vrabec, Dr. Salm, Dr. Unger and the team at Valley Eye Associates is the first in the region to offer this exciting technology.

ORA Benefits

  • ORA allows your surgeon to accurately review your vision during your cataract procedure
  • ORA offers measurements for more accurate calculations to guide your cataract procedure
  • VerifEye+ Technology validates the ORA data in real-time during your surgery, adding another layer of precision
  • ORA is clincally proven to result in more consistent accuracy for your cataract procedure, leading to higher patient satisfaction
  • ORA is highly beneficial for patients with astigmatism and patients who have previously had an eye procedure such as LASIK or PRK
  • ORA reduces the need for follow-up treatments after your cataract surgery

Cataract FAQs

Cataracts can create a wide variety of vision symptoms for people, but most people suffering from cataracts experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Cloudy vision
  • Blurry vision
  • Colors that don’t appear bright or vivid
  • Trouble seeing or driving at night or in low-light environments
  • Increased sensitivity to glare
  • Frequent prescription changes in your glasses or contacts

If you are experiencing any of these vision symptoms, schedule a Cataract Examination with your eye doctor to determine if cataract surgery can improve your vision and lifestyle.

For many people, cataracts develop slowly, over months and even years. They don’t notice how much their vision has declined until it begins affecting their daily lives in many ways. This is one of the most frustrating parts of cataracts for many people — they slowly create poor vision without people noticing the slow decline.

The best time to have cataract surgery is whenever your cataracts begin to affect your daily vision and lifestyle. Whether your cataracts are small or large, our advanced cataract surgery technology ensures you no longer need to wait or suffer from blurry, cloudy vision due to cataracts. Your doctor can give you more information about how cataracts are affecting your vision at your Cataract Examination.

Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed outpatient surgery in the United States — it is a predictable, comfortable, and precise surgery experience. At Valley Eye Associates, we do everything possible to ensure your surgery experience is professional, comfortable, and convenient. During the procedure, you will receive intravenous medication to keep you relaxed throughout the procedure. Your surgeon will gently remove the cloudy cataract lens and replace it with an Intraocular Lens (IOL). With the latest advancements in cataract surgery, your eye will not need stitches after your cataract surgery, leading to quicker recovery and more precise outcomes. Cataract surgery at Valley Eye Associates is a premium experience that will get you back to seeing clearly.

After your outpatient procedure, you will return home and rest for 12-24 hours. Your eye will feel comfortable very quickly after cataract surgery, and most patients experience improvement in their vision just one to two days after cataract surgery as their eyes adapt to the new IOL. It’s very important that you use your prescribed medications and follow your doctor’s instructions after your surgery.

Most patients resume normal daily activities just two to three days after cataract surgery. Your doctor will give you detailed instructions after your surgery and will check on your recovery during your follow-up visits. After this short recovery period, you’ll be free to enjoy your new vision for a lifetime!

Thanks to advances in cataract surgery technology, you have more options than ever before to improve and customize your vision during cataract surgery. Traditional parts of your cataract surgery may be covered by Medicare or your insurance provider, while premium technology innovations offered by Valley Eye Associates carry elective fees to be paid by the patient. When you come in for your Cataract Examination, we will discuss your options, the fees associated with each option, and make a recommendation of what we think will be best for you.

Your need for glasses or contact lenses after cataract surgery will depend on the type of cataract surgery you receive (blade or laser) and the type of IOL you choose (monofocal or multifocal). Some people are comfortable wearing glasses after cataract surgery, while others desire the option to reduce or eliminate their need for glasses or contact lenses.

Be sure to discuss with your doctor your lifestyle goals and whether you want to wear glasses after your cataract surgery. This will help us understand your goals and make the best possible recommendations for your cataract surgery.

Cataract Surgery Affordability

Cataract surgery is a fantastic investment in your vision and your future. Valley Eye Associates is committed to providing the best cataract program in the region, and we’re also committed to making High Definition Laser Cataract Surgery affordable for as many people as possible. That’s why we’ve partnered with CareCredit to create a variety of payment plan options for you. We hope these payment plan options can help you envision how High Definition Laser Cataract Surgery might fit into your budget. Schedule your Cataract Examination or call our office at (800) 344‑4443 to learn more about all the options available to you!

Cataract Testimonials

“I had the best experience having my cataracts and vision correction surgeries done by Dr. Vrabec. From the beginning to the end of my experience at Valley Eye was very professional. I felt like I was very well cared for and very well informed at every step along the way. Thank you so much, Dr. Vrabec and Dr. Jensen and all your staff. I will definitely recommend Valley Eye Associates to all my friends and family.”

HDLCS Patient

“I just had a cataract and lens implant in both eyes done at Valley Eye. I would like to thank Dr. Vrabec and his staff for the great job they did. My eyes are great thanks to them. It is a wonderful place and the care is the best. Wonderful people. Thank you all.”

HDLCS Patient

“I appreciate Valley Eye Associates for their dedication and commitment through the cataract surgeries I had. My situation was complicated by RK scarring and severe astigmatism. Dr. Vrabec, Dr. Scanlon, and staff went out of their way to help explore options. They were thorough in pre-surgery testing to determine the best way to approach the surgery. I am so pleased with the results. I can see better than I have been able to see in years. They were also careful in explaining financial options, making sure billing was correct, and very willing to work with insurance and payment options. I have dealt with several ophthalmologists around the country, and this clinic is one of the best I have ever experienced. I recommend them highly.”

HDLCS Patient

“Suddenly developing cataracts in my early 50s was shocking and scary. I researched the doctors available in Wisconsin and found Dr. Vrabec. His education, experience, and reviews made me choose him and the treatment, staff, professionalism, and results made me a lifetime fan. Thank you all for the awesome care you have given me. You all made this health challenge a breeze.”

HDLCS Patient

“Dr. Vrabec and his staff are first rate. The cataract procedure was the easiest operation I have ever experienced. I am grateful for the kind, courteous service that I received from each and every staff member.”

HDLCS Patient

“Dr. Vrabec was recommended to me by my eye doctor. I would recommend him to my friends and family. He is a doctor who is easy to talk to and he answered all of my questions. He is an excellent surgeon as well as being a pleasant man.”

HDLCS Patient

“Having cataract surgery with a ReSTOR implant was the best decision I ever made! Just think: as a beginner golfer, I can actually see the golf ball. As a fisherman, I can tie the small line of fishing hooks. As a bass singer in the choir, I can read the notes and music, all without the dreadful glasses! I would recommend Dr. Vrabec to anyone with vision problems.”

HDLCS Patient

“I am absolutely thrilled with my new eyes! I was extremely nearsighted before, so this feels like a gift. I am so happy with my decision to have cataract surgery with a Crystalens!”

HDLCS Patient

“Today is the first time that I haven’t worn glasses since I was 8 years old. I wish I would have had cataract surgery sooner!”

HDLCS Patient

“I’d like to say thank you! My job consists of driving a forklift and this made a world of difference in my life! It will be nice to have better vision for reading, and I’m very satisfied with my vision for driving, too.”

HDLCS Patient

“The cataract procedure seemed to go fast and was painless. I felt at ease the entire time and felt I was in good hands with Dr. Vrabec.”

HDLCS Patient

“Astounding! Amazing! I now have crystal clear vision following years of cataract-obstructed vision. Many thanks to every team member at Valley Eye for personal, thorough, and professional care.”

HDLCS Patient

“I decided to have cataract surgery and be free of wearing glasses. I now have 20/20 vision in both eyes and am thankful to Dr. Vrabec and Valley Eye for that great success!”

HDLCS Patient

“I recently had cataract surgery with a ReSTOR implant. My wife had the same surgery in 2008, and everything turned out great. I’ve had the same experience and have already recommended a friend to Valley Eye. All staff were pleasant, informative, and a pleasure to be with.”

HDLCS Patient

“I have been wearing glasses since kindergarten. At 45, I was starting to have to depend on wearing readers. With my career in law enforcement, it was difficult to have to wear readers to read my mobile data computer and watch the road at the same time. Having the corrective eye surgery now gives me the ability to do both without jeopardizing myself or anybody else. I am very happy with the overall experience of the entire process. The staff at Valley Eye Associates and the Pinnacle Surgery Center are very, very professional and friendly. They took the time to explain every step of the process and make sure that this was the right alternative for me and if not, would tell me I would not be a good candidate. Highly recommended, it was a life-changing experience.”

HDLCS Patient