A cataract is a cloudy area in the lens of your eye that prevents light from clearly passing to the retina. It occurs when protein fibers in the lens of the eye are damaged. Once a cataract begins to form, it gradually grows opaque, causing faded, blurry and dim vision that worsens over time. Left untreated, cataracts can eventually lead to blindness. Fortunately, cataract eye surgery is a quick and effective procedure that removes cataracts forever.
With more than two decades of cataract surgery experience, Dr. John Kirk has established a reputation as one of Northern Colorado’s most knowledgeable and trusted eye surgeons. If you have cataracts, contact Kirk Eye Center today by calling (970) 744-2566 or completing the form on this page. Our Loveland practice proudly welcomes patients from Windsor, Fort Collins and throughout the region.
Some cataract sufferers compare their vision quality to peering through a smudged camera lens or a misty windshield. As the condition advances, your vision will continue to deteriorate and your symptoms will evolve over time.
The early stages of cataract development typically offer few signs. At first, cataracts are microscopic and don’t block enough light to inhibit your vision in a significant way. The subtlety of a cataract’s initial formation also prevents you from experiencing other symptoms like needing more light to read, glare from oncoming headlights, or difficulty with fine print that could alert you to an impending problem.
Over time, the clouded area over your eye’s lens increases, allowing less light to reach the retina. This gradually produces fuzziness or fogginess in your vision. Other symptoms include:
- Double vision
- Fading colors
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Difficultly seeing at night
- Strong glare from lamps or the sun
- Frequent adjustments in eyeglass prescriptions
These symptoms can directly affect your ability to enjoy routine activities like reading, sewing, participating in recreational activities and driving at night. Some people temporarily overcome cataract symptoms by increasing their eyeglass prescriptions or utilizing a magnifying glass. However, these temporary solutions won’t adequately address an ever-diminishing field of vision. At some point, you may require cataract surgery to replace your eye’s failing lens with a lens implant (intraocular lens (IOL).
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.
Cataracts Classified by Origin
Classifications of cataracts based on their root cause include:
- Traumatic Cataract: A traumatic eye injury can cause cataracts in certain situations. Some develop almost immediately after an injury while other cases can take years. They are often caused by blunt trauma and chemical exposure.
- Radiation Cataract: Ultraviolet light and other forms of radiation can be responsible for cataract development in rare situations.
- Congenital Cataract: In rare instances, even newborns can suffer from cataracts. While mild cases may not present a significant impact on vision, serious cases could require cataract surgery. Left untreated, other problems such as amblyopia or strabismus could develop.
- Secondary Cataract: These cataracts emerge following eye surgery. Secondary cataracts are most common in patients who have undergone surgery to address glaucoma or various retinal issues. They can also develop after steroid use.
- Age-Related Cataract: This highly common form of cataract generally affects patients in their 60s or 70s.
Cataracts Classified by Location
Classifications of cataracts based on the location of the cloudy area on your eye’s lens include:
- Posterior Subcapsular Cataract: This type of cataract forms along the capsule that encases your eye’s lens, on the back of the lens. Posterior subcapsular cataracts are responsible for the appearance of halos, glare, blurry near vision and light sensitivity.
- Cortical Cataract: This cataract produces cloudiness on the cortex, the outer area of the eye’s lens. Cortical cataracts can be compared to spokes on a wheel that stretch toward the nucleus of the lens. Light scatters when hitting these "spokes."
- Nuclear Sclerotic Cataract: This common form of age-related cataract is caused by the gradual hardening and yellowing of the nucleus, the central area of your eye’s lens. These cataracts eventually lead to diminished vision.
Your Cataract Surgery Procedure
Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most successful surgical procedures you can experience. More than three million cataract surgeries are performed every year in the United States, with an overall success rate of 98 percent or higher.
Cataract surgery is a procedure in which the affected lens of your eye is removed and replaced with an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens, or IOL. At Kirk Eye Center, your procedure will be conducted at our in-house, state-of-the-art Summit Surgery Center. Accredited by Medicare and the Joint Commission, this fully licensed outpatient surgery center is designed to provide you with the highest standards of safety and comfort available anywhere.
When it comes to your vision, we share your sense of urgency. We pride ourselves on the ability to schedule evaluations and surgeries very quickly.
During your procedure, Dr. Kirk will begin by administering anesthetic drops to reduce discomfort. He will then make two small incisions and remove the cataract from its capsule by using a handheld ultrasonic device known as a phacoemulsifier. An IOL is then inserted into the eye and positioned in the same capsule as the original lens.
The procedure typically lasts just a few minutes. There are no stitches involved. The recovery period is brief with minimal downtime, and most patients return to their normal activities the next day. In many cases, patients do not need glasses following surgery.
Cataract Surgery Recovery
Dr. Kirk will provide you with a detailed explanation of what to expect before, during and after your procedure. It is critical to follow his post-operative instructions carefully to ensure an expedient and successful recovery. You will remain under care for a short time following your surgery. Plan to have someone drive you home after your surgery and be sure to get plenty of rest for the remainder of the day.
Patients usually notice a marked improvement in vision quality within a few days following cataract surgery. However, it could take up to a month before you achieve the final results of the procedure. Many patients are able to resume driving within a day or two after surgery.
In order to promote desired healing, protect your eyes and improve the quality of your results, consider these precautions during the first few weeks following your surgery:
- Wear sunglasses to minimize light sensitivity
- Administer all eye drops as prescribed by Dr. Kirk
- Do not expose your eyes to irritants, including wind and dust
- Avoid strenuous activities which may cause eye trauma
- Do not enter hot tubs or swimming pools because they can increase the likelihood of infection
- Do not rub your eyes
- Don’t wear eye makeup for the first week after surgery
Serious complications from cataract surgery are very rare. However, the eye does need time to heal and adjust to your new intraocular lens. The common issues many patients experience during this healing period include:
- Dry eyes
- Red or bloodshot eyes
- Blurry or foggy vision
- Mild discomfort
These issues should subside over the first week or two. If they do not, or if you encounter other issues, like bleeding or infection, contact Kirk Eye Center to schedule an appointment immediately.
You will be using prescription eye drops after your surgery, and you may also want to use some of the over-the-counter drops called artificial tears.
Why Choose Kirk Eye for Your Cataract Surgery
Dr. Kirk is one of the most experienced, respected and trusted cataract surgeons in Northern Colorado. He has performed the procedure for more than 25 years and is renowned for providing the highest level of skill, results and patient care.
His experience, combined with a commitment to exploring new techniques and technology, places him at the forefront of his field and increases the likelihood of an excellent result for you.
Dr. Kirk’s professional affiliations include:
- American Board of Ophthalmology
- American Academy of Ophthalmology
- American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons
Consistently recognized as Loveland’s "Best Eye Care Center" by the Reporter-Herald’s annual Reader’s Choice award, Kirk Eye Center has distinguished itself as the premier choice for cataract surgery.
Northern Colorado is more than Dr. Kirk’s practice area; it is his home. He grew up in Estes Park, and understands the value of a tight-knit community. When you enter Kirk Eye Center, you will immediately feel at home and part of the family. We take pride in taking time to understand your unique situation and provide an individualized care plan that is right for you.
Don’t postpone the clear vision you deserve. If you are considering cataract eye surgery in the Loveland, Windsor or Fort Collins areas, please contact Kirk Eye Center today to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Kirk by completing the form on this page or calling (970) 744-2566.