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Cataracts

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

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2
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Diagram of normal lens
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Iris

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Cornea

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Pupil

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Lens

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Optic Nerve

Lens Affected by Cataracts

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Diagram of lens affected by cataracts
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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.

TORIC IOLs

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.

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

What are the symptoms of cataracts?

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.

When are my cataracts bad enough to require surgery?

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.

What happens during cataract surgery?

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.

How long will it take to recover after cataract surgery?

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!

Is cataract surgery expensive?

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.

Will I need to wear glasses after my cataract surgery?

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 have been wearing glasses since kindergarten. At 45 years of age, 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. Wearing glasses with bifocals was not the feasible alternative in my opinion due to weather. I also tried wearing several types of different contacts which did not work. 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. I would not change anything and would highly suggest it to any of my friends or family. Highly recommended, it was a life-changing experience. The surgery itself was painless. The staff was very comforting. The recovery was very quick. I was very well-educated throughout the whole process. Paperwork was sent home for patients to read and make them aware of the process and any complications that could happen. I recommend Dr. Vrabec and his staff to everyone I talk to.”

Kris, HDLCS™ Patient

“I chose Valley Eye Associates and Dr. Vrabec because of the technology and new equipment that he has and his skills and experience helping people out all over the world. I felt as though I had to get the best. And I was right and couldn’t be happier. Just to be able to take in all that detail outdoors means so much to me. It’s like a whole new world for me. I’ve been bragging this up to everybody and it’s just amazing. I would recommend Dr. Vrabec and his associates and staff to anybody and I definitely will from now on. It’s been a very good experience. I’m 62-years-old and I can tell this is the best eyesight I’ve ever had. The birds better watch out.  I’m a bird hunter and I’m not missing them. And those big bucks hiding in the brush, I’m going to be able to see them standing there.”

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.”

Tom, HDLCS™ PatientOshkosh, WI

“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!”

Leone, HDLCS™ PatientAppleton, WI

“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.”

Zonnie, HDLCS™ PatientNeshkoro, WI

“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.”

Mary, HDLCS™ PatientNew London, WI

“I’d like to say thank you! My job consists of driving a fork lift 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.”

Steve, HDLCS™ PatientAppleton, WI

“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!”

Dave, HDLCS™ PatientAppleton, WI

“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!”

Sue, HDLCS™ PatientNeenah, WI

“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.”

Robert, HDLCS™ PatientWinnecone, WI

“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.”

Jean, HDLCS™ PatientKaukauna, WI

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.

James, HDLCS™ PatientAppleton, WI