Woman reading book after cataract surgery

Around 3 million Americans undergo cataract surgery each year. Cataract treatment involves surgery to remove the clouded natural lens and replacing it with an artificial lens. Here are five frequently asked questions about cataracts.

1. How do I know if I have 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.

2. When is the right time to have cataract 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.

3. Is cataract surgery painful?

No, cataract surgery isn’t painful! Thanks to the numbing eye drops applied to the surface of the eye before the procedure, you won’t feel any pain. The drops do wear off a few hours after cataract surgery. Once this occurs, you may experience some minor discomfort that can be treated with an over the counter pain reliever.

4. 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. During the procedure, eye numbing drops and a light sedation will be administered through IV 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, no stitches are required, 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.

5. What’s the recovery like 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!

Patients using telehealth to connect with their doctor

We are all making changes to adapt to social distancing as a result of the COVID-19 virus. Some changes make things more convenient and are likely to continue even past the virus outbreak. One of these is telehealth.

What is Telehealth?

It is the ability to deliver healthcare remotely by means of telecommunications technology. We call these “virtual visits.” When it is difficult or inconvenient for you to come to our office, we can schedule a telehealth visit with one of the doctors or technicians to evaluate your condition and provide treatment options.

Telehealth Services

We can provide the following services through a virtual visit with a doctor:

  • Emergency and urgent eye care needs (vision loss, red eyes, dry eyes, painful or sore eyes, flashing lights, floaters)
  • New patient and follow-up care for cornea, lens, and retina conditions (keratoconus, cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration)
  • Second opinions for patients and doctors (MDs and ODs)
  • Virtual Free VIP Consultations for vision correction (LASIK and custom lens replacement).

How to Connect to a Telehealth Call

Please try to connect five minutes prior to your appointment time in case of any issues. Here are some tips for getting the best connection for your appointment:

  1. Find a quiet, private, distraction-free space
  2. Use a phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer with a good internet connection and a webcam
  3. You will need to use Chrome, Safari, or Firefox web browsers
  4. Make sure to “allow” access to the audio and video on your device

More questions? Learn more about our telehealth program here.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has issued a month-long safer at home order that prohibits all ”non-essential business“ and prohibits all ”non-essential travel“ in the state during the coronavirus outbreak.

The order goes into effect at 8:00 am on Wednesday, March 25 and remains in effect until 8:00 am on Friday, April 24, unless the governor announces otherwise.

Valley Eye Associates is open for emergency care only, which includes the following:

  • Eye pain
  • Chemical in eye(s)
  • Loss of vision
  • Double vision
  • Foreign body
  • Flashes/floaters/cobwebs/curtains

Some post-op and follow-up appointments are still occurring per each individual doctor’s instructions (injections for patients with macular degeneration, for example, or care following corneal transplant surgeries). Patients are being contacted appropriately, whether appointments are still occurring or being rescheduled.

We have a comprehensive team ready to assist and answer questions (ophthalmologist, optometrist, technician, surgery counselor, and more). Of course things are evolving more and more every day, so we will continue to keep everyone up-to-date.

2020 A Year in Sight: Free LASIK Drawing

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, all non-emergency procedures like LASIK have been postponed to allow for needed medical services. As a result, we are extending our free LASIK sweepstakes until Friday, May 29. The lucky winner of the free drawing will be announced Monday, June 1.

Celebrate 2020 with new vision! Valley Eye Associates is giving one lucky patient the chance to win a free LASIK procedure and everyone who is a candidate a $700** savings on LASIK.

To enter, just fill out the entry form and someone from our team will contact you to schedule a free consultation. If you complete your consultation by Friday, May 29 and are a LASIK candidate, you’ll receive $700 off** your procedure and be entered to win the entire procedure for free!

The winner will be announced Monday, June 1.

Make 2020 your year for better vision!

*Based upon candidacy. No prior refractive procedures or evaluations. Offer valid for LASIK or PRK only. Cannot be combined with other offers or insurance discounts.
**$350 per eye.

The PanOptix intraocular lens implant (IOL) for cataract patients is now available at Valley Eye Associates. It is the first and only FDA-approved trifocal lens to replace the eye’s natural lens after cataract surgery!

If you’re over the age of 45, you may be noticing changes in your vision. Colors may be less vivid, reading without glasses may be difficult, you may require more light to read, and your vision may be blurry or hazy. These are all common symptoms of cataracts and presbyopia—vision conditions that affect the majority of people as they age.

Vision following cataract surgery with the PanOptix lens exceeds previously unattainable levels with older technology. The PanOptix lens provides patients with:

  • Outstanding range of vision—near, far, and in-between
  • Brighter, more vivid colors
  • Less dependence on glasses or contacts

“I have been very impressed with the latest generation of multifocal intraocular lens implants,” says Dr. Michael Vrabec. “The trifocal multifocal IOL, called the Alcon PanOptix lens, has been used overseas for many years with excellent results. It was approved by the FDA for use in the United States in the last half of 2019 and I began offering it to patients shortly after its approval. With over 50 patients having had this IOL implanted in their eyes, I have found the lens to have even better distance, intermediate, and near vision without glasses when compared to older generation of bifocal multifocal IOLs,  better vision in low light, and less glare and halos at night.”

99% of people with the PanOptix lens would choose the same lens again.*

98% of people with the PanOptix lens would recommend it to family and friends.*

80.5% of people with the PanOptix lens reported that, within the past week, they never had to wear glasses to see.*

To schedule your cataract examination and learn more about the PanOptix lOL, please call Valley Eye Associates at (800) 344-4443.

Valley Eye Associates' 2020 Eye Facts

Woman being tested for diabetic retinopathy

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults. Diabetic retinopathy is a general term for all disorders of the retina caused by diabetes.

Diabetic retinopathy can go undetected without a thorough eye exam. This is because it often has no symptoms in its early stages. As diabetic retinopathy progresses, you may notice the following symptoms:

  • An increasing number of floaters
  • Blurry vision
  • Vision that changes from blurry to clear
  • Blank or dark areas in your field of vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Colors appear faded or washed out

Diabetic retinopathy symptoms usually affect both eyes.

Diabetics are at risk for permanent vision damage and even blindness if diabetic retinopathy is left untreated. However, there are steps that can be taken to help prevent diabetic eye disease, including:

  • Maintaining good blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol control.
  • Getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam and/or obtaining retinal photographs that are examined by an eye doctor at least once a year, or more often as recommended by the eye doctor.
  • Women with diabetes prior to pregnancy should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam early in their pregnancy. The eye doctor may recommend additional exams during pregnancy.
  • Keeping a healthy lifestyle that includes exercising regularly, not smoking, and following a healthy diet. Talk to a dietician about eating habits and a doctor before starting an exercise program.

Dr. Michael Vrabec of Valley Eye Associates says, “While diabetic retinopathy is a chronic disease, the good news is that by taking the necessary steps to manage the condition, including getting an annual eye exam, we can help to minimize the harmful effects on your vision.”

For more information about diabetic retinopathy, please visit the American Diabetes Association.

Dr. Salm, Dr. Vrabec, and Dr. Nowak wearing Christmas jackets

Get to know Dr. Daniel Nowak (pictured right), one of the optometrists on our Valley Eye Associates team!

What has been your favorite thing about working at Valley Eye Associates?

I like the variety. I may see something as straightforward as a routine eye exam, to someone with glaucoma, or other potentially blinding conditions and helping them. It makes me keep up-to-date in eye care to provide the best possible care I can. Plus, I like the great staff we have throughout the clinic, from the business office to patient services, techs and surgery schedulers, and to the doctors, who are easily accessible to consult with when asked.

How do you relax after a long day at work?

It depends on the time of year. During the warm-weather season, I like being outside doing yard work and keeping the yard looking sharp. During the cold-weather season, I like doing woodworking, which I am just starting to take up.

What is your favorite holiday and why?

Christmas—the season for goodwill. The time of year that holds hope for humanity.

What is your favorite meal of the day? What would you be eating?

Lunch. I like the diverse restaurants in Appleton and getting to try something different.

What made you decide to go into optometry?

I always found vision and the eye to be fascinating. I decided in high school that being an optometrist was my destiny.

Valley Eye Associates is honored to once again partner with the Home Builders Association of the Fox Cities to collect new, unwrapped toys for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program. All toys collected in the Fox Cities will go to children in the Fox Cities area.

2018 Toys for Tots Local Impact: 16,906 toys distributed, 3,346 children supported

Starting Monday, November 11, new, unwrapped toys may be dropped off at the following Valley Eye Associates locations:

West Appleton
21 Park Place
Appleton, WI 54914

East Appleton
2100 S Kensington Drive, Suite 5
Appleton, WI 54915

Encircle Health
2500 E Capitol Drive, Suite 3500
Appleton, WI 54911

Oshkosh
719 Doctors Court
Oshkosh, WI 54901

Donations will be collected through Tuesday, December 10.

To make a financial donation, write a check to Toys for Tots and mail it or drop it off at:

HBA Fox Cities
920 W Association Drive
Appleton, WI 54914

Email toysfortots@hbafoxcities.com for additional information.

Thank you in advance for helping us spread joy to children in need this holiday season!