Refractive Cataract Surgery

Chicago Refractive Cataract Surgery Specialist Stuart Sondheimer, MD

Dr. Sondheimer is particularly well suited for refractive cataract surgery. He is one of the few cataract surgeons who is also expert in refractive surgery, with a combined 22,000 surgical procedures performed to treat cataracts and refractive vision issues.

Refractive Cataract Surgery | Stuart P. Sondheimer, MD | Skokie IL

Dr. Sondheimer reduces or eliminates his patients’ need for distance and reading glasses with multifocal lens implants or monovision (where one eye sees better at far and the other eye sees better at near). Laser treatments can help to further reduce the need for corrective lenses. Dr. Sondheimer also treats astigmatism (a condition whereby the cornea is irregularly shaped like a football) with toric intraocular lenses, incisions placed at the time of surgery to reduce astigmatism, and by performing LASIK in Chicago.

Dr. Sondheimer meticulously examines and advises each cataract surgery patient before surgery in order to help the patient choose the rehabilitation plan that best serves his or her needs. Dr. Sondheimer is one of the few cataract surgeons who is also an expert in refractive surgery. As a result, he can use his expertise in reducing the need for glasses through refractive laser procedures when treating his laser cataract surgery Chicago patients.

Up until around 2005, cataract patients were perfectly content having their cataract-clouded lens or lenses removed, and then replaced with standard synthetic lenses. The lenses were designed to give a patient with little astigmatism either distance vision or up close vision without the need to use glasses, and the patient needed eyeglasses to correct astigmatism in addition to the other range. This is still how vision is corrected in standard cataract surgery.

But you may no longer have to be dependent on glasses after cataract surgery. Dr. Sondheimer is at the forefront of what is being called Refractive Cataract Surgery. Refractive cataract surgery is a relatively new term — it describes the merging of traditional cataract surgery with modern refractive eye surgery techniques. Refractive cataract surgery enables the person suffering from cataracts to not only lose the clouded vision, but to greatly reduce or eliminate the need for corrective eyewear of any type going forward after their cataract surgery.

What is Refractive Surgery?

Refractive surgery is the term used for surgical procedures that correct common vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia. LASIK is the most popular refractive surgery to remove the patient’s need for prescription eyeglasses and/or contact lenses.

What is Cataract Surgery?

Cataract surgery involves removing the eye’s natural lens that has become cloudy. An intraocular lens implant (IOL) replaces the cloudy lens.

What is Refractive Cataract Surgery?

The first part of Refractive Cataract Surgery is the same as standard cataract surgery, where the clouded natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens. What makes Refractive Cataract Surgery different is the astigmatism correction and presbyopia correction in addition to correction of nearsightedness and farsightedness.

Rather than a standard synthetic intraocular lens (IOL), in many cases, Dr. Sondheimer places a multifocal IOL to correct presbyopia and/or a toric IOL to correct astigmatism. Some patients have Laser Cataract Surgery which reduces astigmatism. Some patients have one eye corrected for distance vision and one eye corrected for near vision. This is called monovision. These lens implants (IOLs) and techniques have the capability of providing excellent vision in the distance and at near after cataract surgery. These multifocal, astigmatism correcting, monovision, and laser techniques may provide excellent vision at near and or far and eliminates or greatly reduces the need for corrective eyewear after surgery. This may include the patient usually not needing distance or reading glasses.

Premium IOL lenses, Laser Cataract Surgery, and Monovision are the keys

The development over the past decade of Multifocal and Toric IOLs in addition to Laser Cataract Surgery has given cataract surgery the ability to also address refractive problems such as astigmatism and Presbyopia. Dr. Sondheimer helps his patients select the most appropriate cataract treatments to meet their vision goas. These are some of the technologies Dr. Sondheimer uses for refractive cataract surgery:

Presbyopia-correcting IOLs and Monovision

When most people pass their 45th birthday, they begin to lose their ability to focus on objects that are up close, such as a book or a computer screen, hence the need for ubiquitous reading glasses. This is called presbyopia.

The new Multifocal IOLs return the ability to see up close after cataract surgery. In contrast, standard cataract lenses are either for distance or near vision, but not both.

Other patients choose to see with one eye in the distance and the other for reading which is called monovision. About 70% of patients will be able to adjust to monovision. Dr. Sondheimer helps his patients determine if they are in the 70% of patients who will be happy with monovision.

Toric IOLs and Laser Cataract Surgery

Another problem to solve is astigmatism, where the cornea is shaped more like a football than a sphere, blurring vision at certain distances impossible. Toric IOLs and/or Laser Cataract Surgery improves astigmatism in Refractive Cataract Surgery.

ORA Intraoperative Aberrometry, Verion Registration, and OPD Registration

In many patients, Dr. Sondheimer uses Intraoperative Aberrometry to measure the power and guide best placements of intraocular lenses (primarily with astigmatism-correcting IOLs and unusual cases such as patients who have had corneal surgery prior to developing cataracts). Laser Cataract Surgery correcting astigmatism corrections are guided by office measured astigmatism by the Verion and OPD instruments and aligned with the Laser Cataract Surgery treatment to achieve precise treatment of astigmatism. These techniques have improved patient’s ability to see without the need glasses after surgery.

Laser Cataract Surgery

Dr. Sondheimer also employs laser cataract surgery to reduce or eliminate astigmatism. The Femtosecond Laser can also perform some steps in cataract surgery more accurately than with other techniques.

Many patients elect to have Cataract Surgery on both eyes.

Cataract surgeries are performed one eye at a time. Sometimes a cataract develops in one eye, but either hasn’t developed to the point where it impairs vision in the other eye. In some patients when the patient’s nearsightedness, farsightedness, and or astigmatism has been corrected in the first eye. The eyes won’t work together as a team and the patient may plan to have both eyes corrected. Cataract surgery is usually

Cataract surgery is usually performed on the eye with poorer vision. In most cases, the first eye to have surgery changes from the eye with the poorer vision to the eye with better vision and many patients desire to have the second eye’s vision improved with cataract surgery. Some patients are best off planning to have cataract surgery in only one eye; other patients are better off planning to have surgery in both eyes. Dr. Sondheimer helps his patients develop the best plan to rehabilitate their vision with surgery on one or both eyes.

The advantages of having cataract surgery in both eyes include:

  • Provides a better overall refractive result utilizing both eyes for multifocal vision
  • Corrects significant refractive errors in the second eye such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and/or astigmatism in the second eye to match and work better with the replaced first eye’s lens implant.
  • Completes the visual rehabilitation in both eyes at one time.

How do I know if refractive cataract surgery would be right for me?

If, in addition to having a cataract in one eye, your other eye is either nearsighted, farsighted, or has astigmatism, refractive cataract surgery may be a good choice for you.  Dr. Sondheimer will help you decide which choice is better for you. Some patients like wearing glasses and don’t want to be independent of glasses after cataract surgery. Some patients prefer to avoid having surgery on their second eye and decide to have standard cataract surgery in their first eye to work well with their nearsighted, farsighted or astigmatic second eye with glasses.

Refractive cataract surgery is designed to help patients that want to be less dependent or independent of glasses.

Here are the symptoms of having a cataract or cataracts:

  • Trouble seeing to drive or read during the night or day
  • Glare interfering with acceptable vision.
  • Your vision is cloudy, as if looking through a dirty window
  • Your color vision has paled
  • You’re having trouble seeing with bright lights
  • Your night vision is becoming poor
  • You’re seeing double vision in one eye
  • Your eyeglass prescription is changing too often

What will my refractive cataract surgery recovery be like?

Traditional and refractive cataract surgeries have the same recovery. Your vision may be blurry at first but improves rapidly in most patients. You’ll wear an eye shield for a few days after having surgery. when sleeping. You’ll have some eyedrops to reduce inflammation, prevent infection, and in some cases control eye pressure. After a couple days, irritation of the eyes should dissapear. Some patients report clear vision within several hours after their cataract surgery, but others may require longer for their vision to improve following surgery. Almost all patient enjoy excellent vision following surgery.

How long does cataract surgery take?

Cataract surgery often takes as little as 15 minutes. It may take longer if the lens is very hard or if astigmatism is corrected at the time of surgery.

Schedule a Consultation

To learn more about refractive cataract surgery or to schedule a consultation, please call 847-677-2794


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