Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find answers to questions asked about our most common services.

If you have any questions or concerns that are not addressed, give us a call at (320) 251‑1432 or send us a message.

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Cataracts FAQ

What is a cataract?

A cataract is a progressive clouding of the eye’s naturally clear lens. The lens focuses light rays on the retina, the layer of light-sensing cells lining the back of the eye. When the lens becomes cloudy, the light rays cannot pass through it easily. Early changes may not disturb vision, but over time cataracts typically result in blurred or fuzzy vision and sensitivity to light. Other common symptoms include glare, starbursts, halos, difficult distance or near vision, distorted vision, and fading colors.

Cataracts are the most common cause of preventable blindness in the world. Fortunately, cataracts can be treated. More than one million cataract surgeries are performed in the United States each year. It is among the most successful operations performed today.

Is cataract surgery effective?

Yes. Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed operations, and also one of the most effective. It is reported that 98% of cataract surgeries result in improved vision and only a small number of patients experience any complications.

Is cataract surgery right for me?

Cataracts form naturally as you age, and in the beginning stages may not impair your vision. A cataract should be removed only when it begins to interfere with everyday activities such as driving or reading. Discuss your vision with your doctor as you decide if cataract surgery will improve your quality of life.

Will I have a lens implant during surgery?

Yes. A cataract is your natural lens, which has become cloudy. When this is removed, it is replaced with an artificial lens that is placed inside your eye. In some cases, we can reduce your independence on glasses by selecting a lens that will give you good distance vision. With this option, reading glasses will still be necessary. Patients with astigmatism may have their best outcome with the help of a toric intraocular lens, which can counteract your astigmatism. For those wishing to achieve independence from glasses at both distance and near, multifocal intraocular lenses may be a good solution. Your surgeon will help you decide which is the best choice for you.

How long is the recovery after surgery?

Your vision may be blurry for a few days following your procedure, but most people have no problem returning to everyday activities within the first few days. It takes some time for the eye to heal and adjust focus. Ask your doctor when you are ready to resume driving.

Glaucoma FAQ

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve and causes vision loss. Like a cable wire, the optic nerve is responsible for carrying the images we see to the brain. Damage to the optic nerve can occur when pressure within the eye increases, usually due to a build-up of aqueous fluid inside the eye. This leads to the development of blind spots in our field of vision. However, damage may occur without elevation of the intraocular pressure. It is important to understand that these blind spots in the field of vision usually go undetected by the individual until the optic nerve is significantly damaged and a great loss of peripheral or central vision has occurred. Damage is typically related to elevated pressure in the eye, however, damage may occur without elevation of the intraocular pressure. Conversely, the pressure may at times be elevated without damaging the optic nerve. This is a condition known as ocular hypertension.

What are the different types of Glaucoma?

Not every type of glaucoma is the same, nor will it have the same impact on your life. If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, please make sure to familiarize yourself with the different types of glaucoma listed below. If you have more questions about glaucoma, our team will be happy to provide additional information regarding your specific type of glaucoma and what this will mean for your life.

Chronic Open-Angle Glaucoma

This is the most common type of glaucoma. The drainage angle, where the fluids in the eye drain, is open, but is not working efficiently. This inability to drain causes pressure within the eye to rise, which results in a gradual loss of peripheral vision.

Angle-Closure Glaucoma

This type of glaucoma occurs when the drainage angle is completely blocked. This prevents any fluid from draining from the eye and causes the pressure within the eye to suddenly rise. This extreme rise in pressure causes issues such as blurred vision, headaches, severe eye pain, and the appearance of halos around lights.

Chronic Angle-Closure Glaucoma

This describes a more gradual closing of the drainage angle, which occurs most frequently in people of Asian descent.

Secondary Glaucoma

This type of glaucoma progresses very much like chronic open-angle glaucoma. It occurs as a result of some other eye issue (such as an eye injury) and occurs when scar tissue blocks the drainage angle. The first symptom is loss of peripheral vision.

Congenital Glaucoma

This is a birth defect which affects the drainage angle. To prevent blindness, this condition must be treated shortly after birth. Symptoms include enlarged eyes, a cloudy cornea, light sensitivity, and excessive tearing.

Who is at risk for Glaucoma?

Since glaucoma can affect anyone, it is important to receive regular comprehensive eye examinations. While everyone may be at risk for glaucoma, there are certain factors that can increase your risk of glaucoma. They are:

  • Being 45 years or older
  • Increased eye pressure
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Severe nearsightedness
  • Being of African American, Hispanic, or Asian descent
  • History of eye injury causing bleeding in the eye

Regular eye exams by a qualified optometrist or ophthalmologist are the only way to detect glaucoma. Depending on your age, the frequency of glaucoma exams should be as follows:

  • 40 and under: once every three years
  • 40-65: once every two years
  • 65 and older: every year
What are the symptoms of Glaucoma?

In the early stages of glaucoma, there are no symptoms, which is why it is important that you visit your eye doctor regularly. As glaucoma progresses, it is possible that you will experience a loss of vision. Once this damage is noticeable, it is usually severe and is almost impossible to reverse. Certain symptoms, including intermittent pain, blurred vision, or seeing colored rings around lights may indicate glaucoma. If you experience any of those symptoms or any sudden and severe eye pain or loss of vision, you should contact your eye doctor immediately.

What treatment options are available?

St. Cloud Eye Clinic offers a variety of treatment options to slow the advance of glaucoma and to prevent further damage. Your doctor will determine the best method or methods of treatment based on your eyes. Some of the options available include:

Topical Eyedrops

There are a variety of medications that can be used with the goal of lowering the pressure in the eye.

Laser Trabeculoplasty

Laser trabeculosplasty is a bladeless procedure that lowers pressure in the eye by opening the drainage angle of the eye. This is often used early in the disease because it has low risk and anesthesia is not necessary. This takes about 10 minutes and there is usually minimal discomfort.

Laser Peripheral Iridotomy

A laser peripheral iridotomy (LPI) is another simple outpatient procedure for patients with glaucoma or those who have a high risk for developing it. Our trained doctors direct a laser to gently put a hole in the eye’s iris. This iridotomy will allow pressures on both sides of the eye to equalize, reducing the chances of permanent vision loss. The entire procedure will only last about 10 minutes, but patients will need to stay for another 30 minutes to have the eye pressure checked.

Glaukos iStent and iStent Inject

St. Cloud Eye Clinic continues to stay on the forefront of technology in eye care with the offering of the iStent, the first FDA-approved device that improves your eye’s natural fluid outflow to lower eye pressure. Proven gentle and effective, the iStent is the smallest medical device ever approved by the FDA.

The iStent is placed in your eye during cataract surgery and is so small that you won’t be able to see or feel it after the procedure is over. The iStent is designed to create a permanent opening in your trabecular meshwork and works continuously to improve the outflow of fluid from your eyes to help control eye pressure.

Once implanted, the iStent will begin working to effectively to manage your eye pressure. It may help to reduce your dependency on glaucoma medications.

Kahook Goniotomy

This is part of a group of newer procedures termed MIGS, or Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery. This is a special device that surgically removes a small strip of the trabecular meshwork which inhibits the outflow of fluid from the eye. As with the iStent, this involves surgery inside the eye, but is similarly has low risk. There is no device implanted with this surgery.

Ahmed Valve

An Ahmed Valve is a medical shunt used in the eye to control intraocular pressure (IOP). When surgically implanted in the eye, this device redirects fluid through a small tube and into a bleb to collect the fluid. The silicone shunt acts much like a garden hose that directs liquid away from where it can cause vision damage in the eye.

Trabeculectomy

During a trabeculectomy procedure, a small amount of tissue is removed from the eye, allowing drainage to lower eye pressure. There is no implanted device in a trabeculectomy. A bleb, or fluid-containing blister, may form on the white part of your eye.

Cornea FAQ

What is Corneal Disease?

The cornea is the clear front window of the eye. It transmits light to the interior of the eye allowing us to see clearly. Corneal disease is a serious condition that can cause clouding, distortion, and eventually blindness. There are many types of corneal disease. The three major types are keratoconus, Fuchs’ endothelial dystrophy, and bullous keratopathy.

Keratoconus is a weakening and thinning of the central cornea. The cornea develops a cone-shaped deformity. Progression can be rapid, gradual, or intermittent. Keratoconus usually occurs in both eyes, but can occur in only one eye.

Fuchs’ endothelial dystrophy is a hereditary abnormality of the inner cell layer of the cornea called the endothelium. The purpose of this layer is to pump fluids out of the cornea, keeping it thin and crystal clear. When the endothelium is not healthy, fluids are not pumped out and the cornea develops swelling, causing it to become cloudy and decrease vision.

Bullous keratopathy is a condition in which the cornea becomes permanently swollen. This occurs because the inner layer of the cornea, the endothelium, has been damaged and is no longer pumping fluids out of the tissue.

What are the Symptoms of Corneal Disease?

With keratoconus, as the cornea protrudes or steepens, vision becomes increasingly blurred and contact lens wear, which is often an early treatment for the disease, becomes difficult. The contact lens may not stay on the eye due to the irregular shape of the cornea.

A person with Fuchs’ endothelial dystrophy or bullous keratopathy may first notice glare with lights at night or in bright sunlight. As these conditions progress, vision may be foggy or blurry in the morning and clear up as the day progresses. As the diseases further progress, vision will stay blurrier later into the day and eventually may not clear at all.

What causes Corneal Disease?
  • The cause of keratoconus in most patients is unknown
  • Bacterial, fungal and viral infections
  • Aging processes can affect the clarity and health of the cornea
  • Bullous keratopathy occurs in a very small percentage of patients following cataract and intraocular lens implant surgery
  • Heredity
  • Contact lenses
  • Eye trauma
  • Certain eye diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa, retinopathy of prematurity, and vernal keratoconjunctivitis
  • Systemic diseases, such as Leber’s congenital amaurosis, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Down syndrome, and osteogenesis imperfecta
What are my treatment options?

An Ahmed Valve is a medical shunt used in the eye to control intraocular pressure (IOP). When surgically implanted in the eye, this device redirects fluid through a small tube and into a bleb to collect the fluid. The silicone shunt acts much like a garden hose that directs liquid away from where it can cause vision damage in the eye.

As with any serious eye infection, corneal disease should be treated immediately. Although a corneal transplant may be necessary to restore vision when the cornea becomes clouded, there are other measures that can be taken to prolong vision in the early stages of disease.

What should I expect from a Corneal Transplant?

What To Expect on Surgery Day

You should arrive at the St. Cloud Eye Clinic 30 to 60 minutes prior to your procedure. Once you have checked in, you may be offered a sedative to help you relax. You will then be prepared for surgery. The area around your eyes will be cleaned and a sterile drape may be applied around your eye. Your eye will be numbed with topical or local anesthetics. When your eye is completely numb, an eyelid holder will be placed between your eyelids to keep you from blinking during the procedure.

The most common type of cornea transplant at St. Cloud Eye Clinic is a Descemet Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK). During this surgery, the diseased endothelium is removed and replaced with a then disc of healthy endothelium from a donor cornea. This endothelium is held in place using a gas bubble at the time of surgery. This surgery takes approximately 30 minutes and you will need to lay on your back for the first few days, except for short breaks to eat and use the restroom.

Everyone heals differently, but most patients resume activities within a few days. Strenuous activity such as lifting, bending, or straining should be avoided for several weeks. To protect your eyes from inadvertent trauma, you will be advised to wear shields, glasses, or sunglasses while your eye heals.

The healing process can take months, but many patients begin to see well in the first few weeks. Steroid eye drops will be used to make sure the transplant heals properly and are typically continued for years to prevent your body from attacking the new cornea.

Realistic Expectations

Return of best vision after corneal transplant surgery may be recognized in three or four months for some, while it may take up to a year after the operation for others. As in any kind of transplant, rejection of the donated tissue can occur. The major signs of rejection are redness of the eye or worsening of vision. Rejection of a donor cornea is rare, but it is very important to contact your eye doctor immediately if the signs of rejection occur.

The success rate for corneal transplants depends on the cause of the clouding. For example, corneal transplants for degeneration following cataract surgery and those for keratoconus both have high success rates, while corneal transplants for chemical burns have lower success rates.

If you decide that a corneal transplant is an option for you, you will be given additional information that will allow you to make an informed decision about whether to proceed. Be sure you have all your questions answered to your satisfaction.

LASIK FAQ

How long have you been performing vision correction procedures?

St. Cloud LASIK has been improving our patients’ lives by correcting vision using refractive technology since 1997.

How will I be able to find out if I am a good candidate for laser vision correction?

The first step is to schedule a free, no-obligation LASIK screening. Through a series of tests and measurements, our team will determine which procedure, if any, you qualify for.

Will I have 20/20 Vision following laser vision correction?

The goal of any refractive surgical procedure is to reduce your dependence on corrective lenses. However, we cannot guarantee you will have 20/20 vision as a result. Our commitment to you is that we will not perform laser vision correction on you or anyone we feel does not have a good possibility of achieving independence from glasses and contacts. The vast majority of our patients are extremely happy with their results and can do most activities without dependence on corrective lenses after laser vision correction.

Will there be pain during my LASIK procedure?

No. You will receive eye drops that eliminate any pain. The only thing you might feel is a little pressure while your flap is being created.

How will I keep my eyes open and still during the procedure?

The surgeon gently inserts a device that assists in keeping your eyes open during the procedure. Then, advanced tracking technology follows every eye movement to make sure every laser pulse is placed in an accurate location.

What does LASIK stand for?

LASIK is an acronym for “laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis.” You may recognize the Latin term in situ as meaning “in its original place.” Keratomileusis is Greek: kerato is a prefix meaning “cornea,” while mileusis means “to shape.” Essentially this describes LASIK as a procedure that uses a laser to reshape the cornea.

How long do you require contact lenses to be removed before the procedure?

Because contact lenses modify the shape of the cornea, they must be left out long enough for your eyes to return to their natural shape. Soft contacts must be left out for two weeks prior to the consultation. People wearing hard contacts may need to wait longer. Ask our office or your eye doctor when you should discontinue wearing them before your evaluation and procedure.

Why do I need follow-up care with my doctor after the procedure?

To achieve the best possible visual outcome, it is very important that your eyes are carefully examined and your vision is closely monitored during your recovery. Examinations are prescribed at significant intervals to ensure proper healing and stability of vision.

Can I make monthly payments?

Yes. We offer flexible monthly payment plans with excellent terms.

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