Larson Eye Center
Understanding a Cataract

CataractA cataract is a clouding or discoloring of the normally clear lens of the eye that can cause vision problems. They are a natural part of the aging process, caused by years of exposure to sunlight. The clouded lens distorts and blocks the passage of light through the eye to the retina causing vision to be dull, blurred, and indistinct. While cataracts can affect people of any age, they are most common in older adults.

The most common symptoms of a cataract are:

The symptoms of early cataract may be improved with new eyeglasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses, or magnifying lenses. If these measures do not help, surgery is the only effective treatment. Cataract surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens.

Surgery is almost always performed as an outpatient procedure, done under local (or twilight) anesthesia. A small incision is made in the eye, and the front surface of the cataract is opened to allow access to the clouded tissue inside. The cloudy portion is then removed and the lens implant is put in its place.

Cataract surgery is one of the most common operations performed in the United States. It also is one of the safest and most effective types of surgery.

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Cataract is extracted. Cataract is extracted.
Phaco Phaco
IOL in place IOL in place.

Cataract Surgery Procedure

Cataract Surgery Chicago

Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure performed at one of our surgical centers that takes less than one hour to perform. Patients will need to make sure that someone is present to drive them to and from the surgery.

When the cataract procedure starts, eye drops will be placed on your eye to dilate the pupil. Topical anesthetics are administered to the eye and then the patient is given a mild sedative to relax. Cataract surgery does not require general anesthesia. Many people think that cataract surgery is done with a laser but this is incorrect and has never been the case. Instead the surgery is done with a process known as Phacoemulsification (fak-o-e-mul-sih-fih-KA-shun).

Next, an incision of 2.5 to 3 millimeters in length is then created at the junction of the cornea (the clear domed structure on the front of the eye) and the sclera (the white part of the eye).

Another dose of anesthetic is then administered inside the eye through this incision. The front part of the lens envelope, know as the lens capsule, is carefully opened so that the lens material can be removed. This is accomplished using a needle-like ultrasonic device, which pulverizes the hardened and yellowed lens proteins. The pulverized material is simultaneously vacuumed from the eye.

Once all of the cataract material has been removed, and assuming that the lens capsule which was opened at the beginning of the surgery remains strong enough to support the lens implant, a folded intraocular lens specifically chosen by your surgeon to suit your individual needs is then inserted through the original incision and maneuvered into the lens capsule and then centered. The lens will remain inside your eye in this location without moving. Intraocular lenses cannot be felt or sensed in any way by the patient.

Under normal circumstances stitches (or sutures) are not required to keep the incision sealed. Should the incision require a suture to be placed for proper sealing, this suture is generally removed within the first week following surgery.

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After The Cataract Surgery Procedure

With phacoemulsification and foldable lens implants, surgical incisions are very small, and sutures are not typically necessary. Your vision will actually start to improve within a few days. Patients may encounter itching or slight discomfort for several days after the surgery, but it is critical to avoid rubbing or bumping the eyes. You may wear an eye patch or protective shield the day of surgery. Additionally the doctors at Larson Eye Center will prescribe eye drops or other medication to prevent infection and control eye pressure. After a couple of days, all discomfort should disappear.


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With offices in Downers Grove and Hinsdale, Illinois, Larson Eye Center is proud to serve the greater Chicago areas of Naperville, Oakbrook, Burr Ridge, Darien and LaGrange. One of our Board-Certified Cataract Surgeons would be happy to guide you through all of your cataract surgery questions.

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Hinsdale Office: 126 West First Street, Hinsdale, IL 60521 Tel (630) 325-5200 Fax (630) 325-5569
Downers Grove Office: 4958 Forest Avenue, Downers Grove, IL 60515 Tel (630) 737-1001 Fax (630) 737-1003