2440 Ravine Way, Suites 500-600
Glenview, IL 60025

Phone: 847.724.9400

Cataracts

WHAT ARE CATARACTS?

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural crystalline lens. This lens is normally clear, and functions to focus light rays onto the retina. Cataracts develop over time as part of the normal aging process, and cause blurry vision. They can also occur as a side effect of certain medications, as a result of certain disease processes, or as a consequence of eye injury. Early cataracts can often be treated by changing one’s eyeglass prescription. Once vision is compromised enough that you are not able to do the things you enjoy, cataract surgery should be considered.

HOW IS CATARACT SURGERY DONE?

Dr. Cunningham performs modern day small incision cataract surgery at Glenbrook Hospital, a part of NorthShore University HealthSystem. Eye drops are used to anesthetize the eye and surgery is done under a microscope. During surgery, a small incision is made at the edge of the cornea. It is a common misconception that laser is used to remove a cataract. This is not true. Instead, ultrasound is used to break up the cloudy lens into small pieces and remove it from the eye. A permanent intraocular lens of the appropriate power is then implanted to replace the natural lens that was removed. In most cases, the original incision is small enough that it self-seals and requires no sutures. The procedure typically takes about 15 minutes and is done on an outpatient basis, so you go home the same day with minimal restrictions. 

IS CATARACT SURGERY PAINFUL?

Most patients report no discomfort during cataract surgery, just an interesting “light show.” After surgery a few patients feel a mild scratchy sensation, which typically gets better on its own.

CAN CATARACTS RECUR AFTER SURGERY?

Cataracts cannot recur after surgery because the natural lens has been removed. In about 30% of patients, the capsule that holds the implant in place can become cloudy over time. This is called a “secondary cataract” but is not a cataract at all. If vision is compromised by a secondary cataract, a procedure using a “YAG” laser to open this cloudy capsule can be done. It is a painless procedure that is very effective in improving vision. 

WHEN CAN I GO BACK TO WORK AFTER SURGERY?

In routine cataract surgery, there are few restrictions when you go home. These include no heavy lifting, and no swimming. Most people are comfortable, and can return to work the next day if they so desire. 

ARE THERE ANY RISKS TO HAVING CATARACT SURGERY?

As with any procedure, there are risks involved. The most serious risk is endophthalmitis, an eye infection following surgery. A discussion of endophthalmitis as well as other risks is beyond the scope of this website, and should be done during a comprehensive exam with Dr. Cunningham prior to consenting to surgery. 

WHEN IS IT TIME TO REMOVE MY CATARACTS?

In years past we waited for long periods of time, until the cataract was “ripe.” This is no longer considered standard of care because of the advances in surgical technique, as well as the difficulties that come with removing this type of cataract. Instead, you as a patient will be very involved in the decision as to whether or not it is time for surgery. If you are not able to do the things you enjoy because your vision is compromised and cannot be improved to your satisfaction with glasses, then it is time to consider surgery. Only a detailed exam and discussion with Dr. Cunningham can guide you to the right decision. 

PREMIUM INTRAOCULAR LENSES

Selecting the right implant can be an important decision for many people undergoing cataract surgery. Measurements are taken before surgery to determine what power lens implant you will receive. In the past, most cataract patients have needed reading glasses or bifocals after surgery in order to see up close. This is no longer the case with modern day premium intraocular lens implants. 

Imagine if you could drive, cook, and read without any glasses! Dr. Cunningham offers modern intraocular lens implants to reduce your dependence on glasses altogether. The Eyeonics Crystalens™ and the AcrySof® ReSTOR® implants are designed to allow you to have it all; good distance, intermediate, and near vision without the strong dependence on glasses associated with a traditional lens implant. Many people are truly glasses free, taking them back to the good distance and near vision they enjoyed in their 30’s without glasses! Talk with Dr. Cunningham to determine if you are a candidate for one of these innovative implants. To learn more you may also visit www.crystalens.com and www.acrysofrestor.com 

Another way to reduce your dependence on glasses is to treat your astigmatism, or abnormal curvature of the cornea. The ACRYSOF® Toric intraocular lens implant will reduce your astigmatism making you less dependent on glasses after cataract surgery.