Laser and Traditional Cataract Surgery

Ophthalmologists & LASIK Surgeons
Serving Chicago, River Forest,
Oak Park, Cicero, Naperville
& Nearby Illinois

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. To schedule an appointment at our office in River Forest, please call 708-771-3334. To contact our Gurnee location, please call 847-249-4660 today. You can also schedule an appointment at either office by completing the form on this page. We welcome patients from throughout the Chicago area, including Cicero.

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Please view the sections below for more information about cataract symptoms and treatment:

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

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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
  • Previous eye surgery
  • Injury to the eye
  • Radiation
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Medical problems, such as diabetes
  • Sun exposure
  • High blood pressure

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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.

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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.

Info on Why to Choose Laser Cataract Surgery | Background: Middle-aged woman resting on arm of couch

Following the removal of your deteriorated natural lens, a new intraocular lens (IOL) is implanted, restoring your clear vision.

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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.

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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.

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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
  • Itching
  • 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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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, please call 708-771-3334. To contact our office in Gurnee, please call 847-249-4660. We proudly serve Cicero and the greater Chicago area.