What is a Cataract?

Closeup of an eye with a cataractA cataract is the clouding of the natural lens inside of the eye, making it difficult to read, drive and perform many daily functions. Cataracts are a normal part of the aging process and develop slowly. Early in life, the lens is transparent and lets light pass through; with time the lens becomes cloudy and makes it harder for the light to pass through. This makes vision similar to trying to see through a frosted window. As the cataract matures the cloudiness increases resulting in significant loss of sight and even blindness.

What Causes Cataracts?

In most cases, the answer is age. Most cataracts form slowly and they never cause any pain. Some things that speed the development of a cataract include Long-term use of corticosteroids, alcoholism, Diabetes Mellitus, eye injury, smoking, and long-time exposure to ultra-violet (UV) light.

How Will I Know If I Have a Cataract?

Many people have cataracts without knowing. This is because in the early stages the cataract doesn’t interfere with vision. As the lens gets thicker, it has more power within the eye which can actually improve reading vision, sometimes called “second sight”. With time, the lens becomes cloudier and may cause a gradual blurring of vision. This is often noticed as difficulty reading road signs or reading the scroll on the bottom of the TV screen. Night driving can also be affected and halos around lights are often seen. Sensitivity to bright lights and decreased vision in bright light are common complaints of cataracts. The ability to distinguish or perceive colors may also be impaired.

Chart showing what it's like to see with a cataract

Cataract Symptoms

  • Cloudiness or blurry vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Double vision
  • Colors seem faded
  • Glare or Halos
  • Light sensitivity

Cataract Treatment

For early-stage cataracts, changing the glasses prescription may improve vision for a while. There are no medications or eye-drops that will help. When the cataracts are interfering with daily activities, cataract surgery should be considered. Cataract surgery is necessary to remove the cloudy lens. Usually, cataract surgery is done in our state of the art Surgery Center, located right here at our office complex, as an outpatient procedure. Our surgeons make a tiny incision and the clouded lens is removed through “phacoemulsification”, a process that uses ultrasound power to liquefy the lens so it can be withdrawn from its sac. The old lens is replaced by an artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL). Until recently all IOL’s were fixed for one distance; therefore requiring most patients to need glasses after cataract surgery. Today, there are many different lens options available and depending on your individual needs and lifestyle, the cataract surgeon will help you decide which lens is best for you.

Chart Showing the Cataract Surgery Process

Astigmatism is an irregularly shaped cornea, resulting in a vision error that occurs when light rays entering the eye scatter instead of providing a single focal point. We use the latest state-of-the-art technology to diagnose all levels of astigmatism. One test is called a corneal topography in which a special camera is used to photograph the corneal pattern. A detailed map is produced to show the cone’s size, shape, and steepness. Another test called a Pentacam is used to scan the front segment of your eye as well as a precise analysis of the central cornea. These tests are fast and painless and will be performed prior to your cataract surgery.

Treating Astigmatism Using AK

Using the results from the corneal topography and pentacam, a procedure called Astigmatic Keratotomy is performed at the same time as cataract surgery to reduce astigmatism. The physician uses the information form the corneal scans to see exactly where to make a carefully planned surgical incision in the eye. The incision is made with the 1/10th-inch incision, a self-sealing technique so no stitches are needed. After the Astigmatic Keratotomy procedure, the cornea’s shape is more rounded like a basketball instead of irregular like a football, further reducing your dependence on glasses for distance after surgery. Reading glasses will still be needed for fine print.

Toric lens

Toric Intraocular Lens ExampleOne advanced lens we use at Prairie Eye Center can correct a certain amount of Astigmatism. It is called the Acrysof Toric lens. The traditional IOL will clear the vision from a cataract, but cannot correct astigmatism. To treat astigmatism without the Toric IOL, corrective eyewear or additional surgery (see section above regarding AK) is needed to reduce the blurring and distortion. The unique design of the Acrysof Toric lens makes it possible to reduce or eliminate corneal astigmatism and significantly improve uncorrected distance vision. Patients will still need reading glasses to correct near vision (reading vision).

Revolutionary Lenses

Prairie Eye Center and our surgeons are recognized internationally as leaders in cataract surgery and lens replacement, specializing in the advanced technology lens procedure. At the time of cataract surgery, you can choose to have your natural lens replaced with either a traditional single focus intraocular lens (IOL), a multifocal intraocular lens, or a Toric lens, referred to as advanced technology lenses.

Multifocal Lenses

Some advanced technology lenses have built-in trifocals that provide all distances of vision without dependence on glasses or contact lenses, allowing clear vision at near, intermediate and distance. Most advanced technology lens patients experience visual freedom after their procedure, allowing them to see both far and near without glasses. This lens allows the greatest degree of independence from glasses.

Main Campus

2020 West Iles Avenue
Springfield, IL, 62704

Phone: (217) 698-3030
Fax: (217) 698-3068

Mon - Fri: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sat: 8:00 AM - 12 Noon
Map of Our Main Campus

Prairie Retina Center

2800 Montaluma Drive
Springfield, IL, 62704

Phone: (217) 321-2020
Fax: (217) 321-2026

Mon - Fri: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Map of the Retina Center

Prairie Spa

2800 Montaluma Drive
Springfield, IL, 62704

Phone: (217) 960-3223

Mon : 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Tues: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Weds: 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Thurs: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Fri: 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Sat: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Map of the Prairie Spa


518 Broadway
Lincoln, IL, 62656

Phone: (217) 732-6062
Fax: (217) 732-8495

Mon - Fri: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Map of Our Lincoln Location


2000 West Morton
Jacksonville, IL 62650

Phone: (217) 245-6814
Fax: (217) 245-0375

Mon: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Tues: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Wed: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Thurs: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Fri: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM  
Map of Our Jacksonville Location


200 East Mechanic Street
Hillsboro, IL 62049

Phone: (217) 532-3036
Fax: (217) 532-6623

Mon - Fri: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Map of Our Hillsboro Location


130 West Center
Girard, IL 62640

Phone: (217) 627-2718
Fax: (217) 627-3312

Mon: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tues: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wed: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Thurs: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Fri: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Map of Our Girard Location


106 E. Main Street
Beardstown, IL 62618

Phone: (217) 323-1146
Fax: (217) 323-1156

Mon - Thurs: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Fri: 8:00 AM - 12:00 Noon
Map of Our Beardstown Loaction


960 E. Mound Road
Decatur, IL 62526

Phone: (217) 877-5050
Fax: (217) 877-9711

Mon - Thurs: 7:30am - 4:00pm
Friday: 7:30am-3:00pm
Map of Our Decatur Location