Cataract Eye Surgery
SERVING LOVELAND, FORT COLLINS, GREELEY, LONGMONT & AREAS NEARBY IN COLORADO
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 970-669-1107 or completing the form on this page. Our Loveland practice proudly welcomes patients from Windsor, Fort Collins and throughout the region.
What Are The Symptoms of Cataracts?
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).
What Are The Different 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.
Who Is An Ideal Candidate For Cataract Surgery?
The best candidates for cataract surgery have cataracts that are affecting their vision. If glasses or contact lenses no longer provide vision improvement, then the cataracts may have progressed to a point where they should be removed. If our experienced eye doctors determine that this procedure will restore the quality of your vision, then you are a good candidate for it.
Good overall health is an important part of your candidacy. Our eye doctors will do a full health history and assessment to determine if any health conditions are contraindications to cataract surgery, but this is unlikely. Heart conditions and certain eye conditions do not necessarily disqualify you.
Can I Have Cataract Surgery On Both Eyes At The Same Time?
Cataract surgery is usually performed on one eye, and then on the other eye several weeks later. This provides time for the first eye to heal. Vision in that eye will stabilize before the other eye is operated on. Splitting the procedures also reduces the risk of certain complications and allows us to see how the first eye responds. Then we can make adjustments to the second surgery if necessary.
Simultaneous cataract surgery has been performed in limited circumstances but is uncommon. Rely on our experienced eye doctors to educate you about all of your options.
How Can I Prepare For Cataract Surgery?
To prepare, you will:
- Consult our eye doctors
- Get answers to all of your questions about cataracts and your options
- Complete any eye exams, tests, and imaging ordered by your doctor
- Stop taking certain medications, blood thinners, and supplements as instructed by the doctor
- Arrange for at least a few days off from work and other activities
- Arrange for someone to drive you home from surgery
- Don’t eat or drink anything for 12 hours before surgery
- Don’t wear makeup to surgery
- Stop wearing contact lenses a few days before surgery
This is not an exhaustive list. We will provide complete pre-care and post-operative instructions in advance of surgery. We will also be here every step of the way if you have questions or concerns.
Is Cataract Surgery Painful?
The area will be completely numbed to sensation so you will not feel cataract surgery. Afterward, itching and discomfort is normal for a few days. You should contact us if you feel like the pain is excessive.
How Soon After Surgery Can I Return To My Regular Schedule?
It will take at least a few days for blurriness to resolve and to get back to your routine. You should wait until clear vision is restored to engage in full activities. You should stay home from work for a few days, until your vision is clear. Follow the doctor’s directions for when it is safe to drive and engage in strenuous exercise.
How Is The Cataract Surgery Procedure Performed?
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.
What Is Recovery Like After Cataract Surgery?
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.
"I had cataract surgery about 2 weeks ago. I was nervous but they calmed me down and everything went great. Everyone was so nice and caring. My vision is great now and there was nothing to be nervous about. For me it was a painless procedure. I recommend Kirk Eye Center if you need vision care. I am happy with my results" -- Janet M.
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.