Bloomington / Normal, IL

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An Amazing Awakening


By Julie Payne, Eye Surgical Associates

Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night and fumbled for my glasses so I could see. Then I realized that I did not need my glasses. What an amazing awakening! I recently had laser refractive cataract surgery on both of my eyes, and I am still marveling at being able to see so clearly without contacts or glasses. I know many people who have had LASIK surgery and talk about this wonderful experience, but, according to national statistics, only 12 percent of cataract patients choose to also have their vision corrected during cataract surgery. Our statistics at Eye Surgical Associates (ESA) are closer to 50 percent because there is a dedicated team of knowledgeable staff who provide education about the different options. Still, quite a few patients choose basic cataract surgery, which means they will always need glasses.

For some people, glasses are a part of their identity and they prefer to wear glasses. Others may hesitate to pay the out-of-pocket expense for the vision-correcting component of the surgery because their insurance and Medicare only covers the cataract removal surgery. Some may simply not realize that they can choose to have their vision corrected when they have the cataracts removed.

For me, there was no question. I was excited about the opportunity to have the best vision possible after surgery without glasses or contacts and saw it as an investment in my vision. I also had the additional benefit of observing several cataract surgeries and hearing about the options for vision correcting from the staff at ESA multiple times. For full disclosure and transparency, I am the practice administrator at ESA, so these are unique benefits. Hopefully, my knowledge and experience can be helpful to you if you have been diagnosed with cataracts.

Here is some encouraging information:

  • Cataract surgery is one of the safest surgeries, with a 96 percent success rate.
  • The surgery is quick and only takes about 20 minutes for one eye. If cataract surgery is needed for both eyes, the second eye is scheduled for surgery two weeks later.
  • The surgery is painless. It is an odd experience to be awake during surgery on your eyes, but it was not painful. The most I felt was pressure on my eye. I will admit, it is not a sensation I liked and I was glad when it stopped, but I did not experience any pain during or after the surgery.
  • Recovery is very quick. After surgery, I went home with a patch on my eye, which I wore for six hours. When I took the patch off, my eye was still very dilated, so my vision wasn’t great, but I could tell there was a significant improvement. By the next day, my vision was very good and has continued to improve.
  • When you have vision correcting cataract surgery, you have options about your vision goals. I chose to have my left eye corrected for distance and my right eye for mid-range vision, which is called monovision. This allows me to see both distance and midrange without glasses. Some choose to have both eyes corrected for distance and wear glasses for mid to close-up range. Options vary depending on the amount of correction needed and desired vision range.
  • If the expense is a concern, there is one-year, interest-free financing available, subject to approval.

A friend of mine also had cataract surgery recently but chose basic cataract removal. Looking back, he regrets that he didn’t have his vision corrected. He thought the price was high at the time he made his decision but admits he had the money and just didn’t think about the long-term benefit of vision correction. I have no regrets, and I love being able to see clearly all the time.

If you would like more information about laser refractive cataract surgery or to schedule a comprehensive eye exam, contact Eye Surgical Associates at 309-662-7700. Ophthalmologists Daniel Brownstone, Catharine Crockett, Scott Pinter, and Optometrist Kathleen Vize will be happy to assist you. ESA is located at 1505 Eastland Drive Suite 2200 Bloomington.