Cataract Surgery Program at Vance Thompson Vision

Cataracts Top Line

  • Educate cataract patients on all implant options
  • Refractive cataract packages can include correction for distance vision, astigmatism correction and/or presbyopia correction.
  • New Multifocals available with reduced night-time halo and variable add power options
  • Refractive cataract surgery is a 2-3 step process including YLC and corneal laser enhancement
  • Drop A Day Cataract Surgery Most Common

For the most updated Cataract Referral Forms, please email [email protected]

For the most updated Post-Op Report Forms, please email [email protected]

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The most common reason for removing the crystalline lens is cataract surgery. The second most common reason is refractive lens exchange. It is ultimately the patient’s decision to choose which implant will best match their visual expectations and best correct their vision after removal of the natural lens. This is a permanent, big decision. It is our job as doctors to educate them on all their options, and the pluses and minuses of each.

More and more cataract patients are considering the option of using advanced implants to correct their vision after cataract surgery. We educate all patients on monofocal technology, wavefront adjusted aspheric monofocal technology to maximize night time vision, toric implants for astigmatism correction and presbyopia correcting implants that address distance, intermediate, and near vision. We find that even if a patient chooses a traditional monofocal implant and bifocals postoperatively, they are at peace, because they were educated on all the options and feel that they made an informed decision. The flow of the conversation about how patients want to use their vision after cataract surgery can be seen below. Click on the image to view detail.


Cataracts Infographic


What is the Procedure?

We perform cataract surgery in two ways: Traditional Cataract Surgery and Refractive Cataract Surgery

Traditional Cataracts Surgery:

  • Manual micro-incisional surgery to remove the crystalline lens under sterile conditions using topical anesthesia with sub-lingual or intravenous sedation.
  • A manual capsilorhexis is performed with phacoemulsification for lens dissection and removal while retaining the lens capsule intact.
  • Insertion of a foldable intra-ocular lens within the capsular bag with a targeted power determined by Lenstar or immersion A-scan IOL calculation.
  • Removal of viscoelastic and self-sealing micro-incisions without suturing.
  • Glasses or Contact Lens correction of refractive error and presbyopia following surgery.


Refractive Cataract Surgery:

  • Femtosecond laser assisted micro-incisional surgery to remove the crystalline lens under sterile conditions using topical anesthesia with sub-lingual or intravenous sedation.
  • An anterior segment OCT guided femtosecond laser used to create custom corneal incisions, a custom capsulorhexis, and crystalline lens segmentation with phacoemulsification for lens removal while retaining the lens capsule intact.
  • Insertion of a foldable intra-ocular lens, monofocal, toric, or presbyopia correcting, within the capsular bag with a targeted power determined by Lenstar or immersion A-scan advanced IOL calculations assisted by intra-operative aberrometry (prior to and post insertion) for correction of refractive error.
  • Corneal laser enhancement for correction of refractive error following surgery.

When and Why Do It?

Patient Exam and Selection

The importance of a thorough examination and counseling session with any eye surgery patient preoperatively cannot he overemphasized. All patients considering refractive corneal or lenticular surgery need to have a complete examination of their anterior and posterior segment.

Our definition of when a patient should consider cataract surgery is:

  • When a cataract causes a reduction in patient’s vision so they cannot function the way they need to in their life and cannot be corrected with glasses, contact lenses or corneal refractive surgery, then cataract surgery should be considered.

Patients arrive at the decision to have cataract surgery at different levels of vision and for various reasons. We employ an Activities of Daily Living survey to help patients identify their symptoms and determine when they are bothered by the cataract enough to consider surgery. Certainly, cataract surgery does not have to be performed and a well-informed patient is the only one to make the decision to proceed.

The cataract evaluation is a comprehensive ocular evaluation in addition to the determination of the cataract’s effect on vision, measurements to determine IOL power, an extensive discussion on cataract surgery and IOL options, a discussion of risks/benefits with informed consent, patient education and counseling on costs and instructions. For patients who desire a specific refractive outcome through our Refractive Cataract Surgery program there are additional diagnostic and educational components of the refractive surgery evaluation included in this evaluation. As you can see in Table 1, there are many similarities between the refractive cataract and refractive corneal evaluations.

Cataracts Chart


1 - tests performed for refractive patients who are phakic implant candidates

2 - performed if slit lamp exam suggests endothelial abnormality

3 - to aid in determination of KAMRA corneal inlay candidacy

4 - to aid in determination of multifocal IOL candidacy


Once the patient has decided to proceed with cataract surgery the next decision is which IOL they will choose and hence the type of cataract surgery they will have. This decision can be simply based on whether they mind wearing glasses after surgery or want to function mostly without optical devices.

Sixty percent of our patients do not mind or want to wear glasses after cataract surgery and opt for Traditional cataract surgery with a monofocal implant.


The invention of the monofocal implant (and it’s placement in the capsular bag after phacoemulsification) revolutionized cataract surgery. However, we can still learn from the natural optical system principals to help in the choice of the best monofocal implant.

From birth, the cornea has a positive aspheric surface and remains positive for our entire life if surgery like laser vision correction is not performed. In a young person, this positive corneal asphericity is counterbalanced by the crystalline lens’ negative asphericity. This neutralizing of asphericity allows young people to have sharp night-time and low-light image quality.

As we age, our natural lens transitions from a negative aspheric state to a positive aspheric state. This is why our night-time and low-light image quality worsens as we get older.

Many monofocal implants that have been developed also have a positive aspheric surface. In a sense, this is a missed opportunity and can lead to a lower quality night-time image after cataract surgery. Fortunately, there have been implants developed that address this issue. These implants are created in with a negative aspheric surface to better mimic the natural lens in a younger individual. This negative aspheric lens implant helps to counteract the corneas positive asphericity, which in turn has been shown to produce a better night time image quality. For patients who want great night time image quality and are fine with reading glasses or bifocals, we typically recommend a negative aspheric surface lens (example the Tecnis monofocal lens, ZCBOO).

Forty percent of our cataract patients desire to reduce their dependence on optical devices and will select one of our refractive cataract surgery packages.


Refractive Cataract Surgery

Refractive Cataract Surgery is our term for advanced refractive cataract surgery packages designed to help patients reduced their dependence on optical devices.

Refractive Cataract Surgery packages include:

  • Monofocal IOL for distance vision correction or monovision
  • Toric IOL for astigmatism correction or monovision
  • Advanced presbyopia correction
  • Accommodating IOL (Crystalens) for correction of refractive error, with or without astigmatism, as well as presbyopia.
  • Multifocal or extended depth of focus IOL for correction of refractive error as well as presbyopia

Although the emphasis tends to be placed on the advanced IOL, Refractive Cataract Surgery packages are all inclusive much like our corneal refractive options. These packages include, advanced pre-operative diagnostics, laser assisted cataract surgery, intra-operative aberrometry, advanced IOLs when indicated, refractive YAG laser capsulotomy, extended post-op care and corneal refractive surgery enhancement. Considered elective, these packages are an additional out-of-pocket expense for patients.


Monofocal IOL for Distance or Monovision

Many patients, especially those who have had previous refractive corneal surgery, are looking to achieve good distance vision without spectacle dependence.

They may have had good distance vision and used readers for near or had some measure of monovision that worked well for them prior to developing cataracts.

These patients tend to like doing refractive cataract surgery with a monofocal IOL and targeting distance vision or a form of monovision. We still use the advanced diagnostic technology before and during the cataract surgery as well as a corneal laser enhancement, if necessary, to allow them to be less dependent on optical devices, but will still use them for some things. Some are ok with glasses after surgery, but just want to reduce their level of refractive error in their prescription.

We use an aspheric monofocal to help improve night time vision and reduce chromatic and spherical aberration.

Toric IOL for Distance or Monovision

For those patients with greater corneal astigmatism we offer the option of correcting their astigmatism as well as refractive error for distance vision or monovision. The refractive cataract surgery package for astigmatism may use an intra-operative AK performed by the femto second laser or a Toric IOL.

In general, with less than 1.00 diopter of astigmatism, intra-operative AKs can be performed or the main incision can be made on axis to reduce astigmatism up to 0.50 D.

Toric IOLs can correct up to 6.00 diopters of astigmatism.

Advanced Presbyopia Correcting IOLs

IOLs that correct for presbyopia have been available for almost 17 years now. The technology continues to develop at an accelerated pace. The newest presbyopia correcting IOLs are no exception as they do a great job at providing distance, intermediate and near vision for cataract patients. Newer designs with advanced optics to decrease night time glare and halo, along with more available add powers have allowed patients to confidently choose an IOL that can reduce their dependence on optical devices at all distances. With two categories, accommodating and multi-focal, there are multiple options for patients to choose from depending on how they use their vision.

Accommodating IOLs (Crystalens and TruLign Crystalens)

The Crystalens AO and Crystalens TruLign Toric accommodating IOL uses flexible haptics to translate and flex to create a pseudo-accommodation of between +1.00 and +1.75 D. The anterior aspheric optics added to the Crystalens create excellent clarity of vision, night time image quality and enhance depth of focus. Having a monofocal optic makes the Crystalens ideal for post corneal refractive surgery patients. Because the amount of accommodation can be variable with the Crystalens, patients must understand they may still use readers for some detailed near activities.

The capsulorhexis and the developing tension of the capsular bag can have a significant effect on how well the Crystalens is able to accommodate. The use of the femtosecond laser for a precise capsulotomy is key to predicting effective lens position. As the capsule contracts around the implant after cataract surgery it can restrict the Crystalens and possibly shift or tilt the lens position causing reduced vision and induced astigmatism. Our standard is to perform a YAG laser capsulotomy at 2 months post cataract surgery with the Crystalens.

Patients with astigmatism can take advantage of accommodating technology with the Crystalens TruLign toric which can correct from 1.25 up to 2.75 diopters of astigmatism.

Multifocal IOL

Multifocal IOLs have had an up and down following over the years. Even though they can provide extremely good near vision, the glare and halo issue with some implants has over-shadowed their advantages.

Fortunately, new optic designs and more available add powers has greatly improved the function of the multifocal for cataract patients. The addition of wavefront designed aspheric optics to the concentric diffractive multifocal optics has reduced night-time glare and halo for patients. Multifocal designs now offer differing strengths of add power to customize working distance for patient’s needs.

The Tecnis Multifocal can be ordered in three different add powers, +4.00 (ZMBOO), +3.25 (ZLBOO) and +2.75 (ZKBOO), which provide +3.00 D, +2.37 D and +2.01 D add power at the spectacle plane.

Patient selection becomes most important with multifocal IOLs. We consider not only that the patient has realistic expectations and is comfortable with some night-time glare, but that their eyes also fit specific criteria to help ensure a good outcome. Multifocal IOLs do not come with toric availability, so patients with astigmatism must know a laser enhancement will be necessary at around three months post-op.

Angle Kappa and Angle Alpha

The diffractive multifocal surface requires that the IOL be perfectly centered on the patient’s visual axis and not too far off center of the normal pupil. Angle Kappa, the angle created between the visual axis and geometric pupil center is measured on all cataract patients. If the difference is greater than 400 microns, we do not recommend a multifocal for that patient. Angle Alpha, the angle between the visual axis and the geometric center of the cornea is also considered. The geometric center of the cornea, as measured from white to white, is a directly proportionate to the crystalline lens geometric center. Angle Alpha will therefore give us information about the centration of the IOL with respect to the visual axis, and if a large difference may reduce visual quality. If Angle Alpha is greater than 300 microns we would not recommend a multifocal. Angle Alpha or angle Kappa tend not to have a significant effect on monofocal IOLs or the Crystalens.

Advanced presbyopic correcting IOLs perform best with clean optical systems. We perform all the diagnostic corneal testing during our cataract evaluation that we would for a refractive corneal evaluation. We want to make sure the patient is a candidate for laser refractive surgery to enhance their vision if needed after refractive cataract surgery.


Expectations of cataract patients have grown due to advances in vision-correcting technology. We find that after a thorough discussion of implant options, many implant patients choose the monofocal or wavefront designed implants. This allows them to achieve great distance vision and compensate for near with either bifocals or reading glasses. Even when they choose these monofocal implants they are still appreciative that they had an honest discussion about the advanced implants that could have provided them with distance and near vision.

The patients that choose the advanced implants for distance and near are the ones that have expectations like younger, LASIK patients. They want to be able to experience life without glasses or contacts. They are fine having a pair of glasses for certain activities, but they have a great desire to function throughout the day without optical devices.

The reason we offer the full array of advanced implants is that just like in the corneal refractive surgery arena, we want to maximize the chance of delivering the very best outcome for any particular patient’s needs and expectations. Again, even the ones who do not choose the advanced technology tend to appreciate the discussion and options.

How is the Procedure Done?

Informed Consent

Video of Intraoperative Dex-mox-ketoralac Injection


Educating the patient on the risks of cataract surgery through an adequate informed consent procedure is paramount. Informed consent can be accomplished through written documents or video tapes and can include written tests on the material. An informed consent document contains descriptions of the procedure, alternative treatments and options, and a thorough list of potential risks.

Risks that should be included in a cataract informed consent document should include blindness, infection, cystoid macular edema, retinal detachment or hemorrhage, overcorrection, under correction, corneal scarring, irregular astigmatism, anisometropia, reduced BCVA, difficulty wearing contact lenses postoperatively, the potential need for permanent glasses correction, and that it is impossible to list every complication that may occur as a result of surgery.

The document should also review that if the postoperative refractive error is not correct for their situation, they may need an enhancement procedure or rarely an implant exchange or piggyback procedure. A list of possible temporary or permanent side effects such as pain, fluctuating vision, night glare/halos, ptosis, increased IOP or any other side effects inherent to the procedure under consideration is also important. It should be documented that the patient states that he or she has read the informed consent and that he or she understands the possible risks, complications, and benefits that can result from the surgery and, finally, that it is his or her decision to undergo cataract surgery.

Post-Op Care

Post-Op Exam

  • Patients are seen at 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 3 month and 6 mos after surgery
  • Refractive cataract surgery patients may also be seen at 2 mos for YLC especially with Crystalens

At the one week post-op exam, especially between the first and second eye surgery, we like to see uncorrected and best corrected vision with a MRx , slit lamp exam and IOP, as well as a statement of how the patient is doing with their first eye. This information becomes critical when performing their second eye to know we are on the right path and it is medically the right thing to do proceeding with the second eye.

All refractive cataract surgery patients are educated that it is a project or process to correct their vision. It may be a 2 to 3 step process including YLC and laser corneal enhancement to get to final vision outcome.

Post-op Medications

Patients now have a choice with pre and post-operative medications. An antibiotic, a steroid and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory will always be used following cataract surgery. We also pretreat with the anti-inflammatories 3 days prior to surgery. The choice patients now have is how those medications are administered. Traditional drops can be taken, or the patient may elect Drop A Day Cataract surgery, with intra-operative injectable antibiotic and steroid medication. With traditional drop cataract surgery patients will take drops 9 times per day the first week and 3 times per day for the next 3 weeks. With Drop A Day cataract surgery the patient, obviously as the name implies, uses one drop per day for 4 weeks. We now offer a combination drop which contains all three medications - antibiotic, steroid and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, in one bottle and which patients can pick up at Vance Thompson Vision prior to surgery. Below is an explanation of the various pre and post-op protocols patients may follow prior to and after surgery, as prescribed by their surgeon based upon individual need. Each is supplemented with a printable drop schedule as a visual and for daily tracking.

Drop A Day Cataract Surgery: These patients will be administered an injection of Dex-mox-ketor (Dexamethazone - Moxifloxacin - Ketoralac) at the time of surgery.

  • Combination drop of Prednisolone-Gatifloxacin-Bromfenac QD x 3 days prior to surgery and QD x 4 weeks post operatively
Drop a Day 1


  • NSAID Ilevro, Prolensa or Bromsite QD x 3 days prior to surgery and QD x 4 weeks post-operatively
Drop a Day 2
  • NSAID Ilevro, Prolensa or Bromsite QD x 3 days prior to surgery and QD x 12 weeks post-operatively
Drop a Day 3

No Injection Cataract Surgery:

  • Combination Drop (Prednisolone-Gatifloxacin-Bromfenac) QID x 3 days prior to surgery and QID x 1 week, BID x 3 weeks post-operatively
No Injection 1


  • Combination Drop (Prednisolone-Gatifloxacin-Bromfenac) QID x 3 days prior to surgery and QID x 1 week, BID x 3 weeks, followed by Ilevro, Prolensa or Bromsite QD for the next 8 weeks post-operatively
No Injection 2


  • 3 RX Pre-Op
  • Vigamox: QID for three days prior to surgery, plus the morning of
  • NSAID: Ilevro, Prolensa or Bromsite - QD for three days prior to surgery, plus the morning of
  • Prednisolone Acetate 1.0% - QID for three days prior to surgery, plus the morning of
No Injection 3


  • 3 RX Post-Op
  • Vigamox: QID for one week
  • NSAID: Ilevro, Prolensa or Bromsite - QD for three days prior to surgery, plus the morning of
  • Prednisolone Acetate 1.0% - QID x 1 week, BID x 3 weeks
No Injection 4


Maximizing Patient Outcomes

There are three primary components to maximizing patient outcomes: Pre-operative examination, Intra-operative technology and experience and Post-operative management.

Before surgery: Patient selection during the the pre-operative exam is critial. Ideally, we are looking for presbyopes with refractive error around +0.50 to -0.75 with less than -0.75 of astigmatism. Corneal thickness nees to be greater than 500 microns.

Managing patient expectations and aggressively treating the tear film will aid in successful outcomes.

During surgery: It is imperative to make sure the inlay is centered.

After surgery: It's important to emphasize the length of time it takes for the vision to completely recover and continue to aggressively treat the tear film.

See and Do Cataract Surgery


The See & Do Cataract program is designed to cut down on the number of trips patients have to make to our clinic for cataract surgery. Each week, all of our surgeons in Sioux Falls, Fargo and Bozeman, have clinic and surgery center appointments available for patients to be seen in clinic in the morning, have surgery early afternoon, and be back to see you for their one-day post-op appointment. The process for referring patients for this type of surgery is detailed below. We recently developed a folder which contains the information patients will find useful as they begin their journey. The idea is to make the process as easy as possible on you, your staff and your patients, while ensuring your patients understand all of their options related to their surgery.

STEP 1: Inside the front cover, you will find a See & Do Cataract Referral Form and a patient Introduction Letter. All we need from your office to initiate the referral process is that referral form completed and faxed back to our office. The rest of the folder is intended for your patient and should be sent along with them when they leave your office. A doctor and a surgical counselor from Vance Thompson Vision will call your patient to review the folder contents, discuss surgical options, and set up post op visits with your clinic. Under the pocket labeled number 1, is the Patient Information Packet, which includes forms such as demographic information and consents which they will go through with our counselors. There is also a History and Physical form which they will take along to their primary care doctor prior to their surgery.

STEP 2: The second flap allows a place for patients to take notes during their conversation with our doctor about how they plan to use their vision following cataract surgery and the options available to them. Inside the pocket labeled with a number 2, there is an informational piece about cataracts which supplements the discussion they will have with our doctor.

STEP 3: The last flap covers the financial aspects of a patient's surgery. A surgical counselor from Vance Thompson Vision will walk the patient through this information as it specifically relates to their medical coverage, anticipated out-of-pocket costs, and any refractive charges as applicable. Inside the pocket labeled with a number 3, you will see brochures which describe the financing options available to patients. We work with both, CareCredit and ALPHAEON CREDIT. For more on these companies and the plans they offer, please visit the Billing section of the Patient Education page.

Forms and Info