We specialize in Advanced Refractive Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery.

The technology we use combined with the experience of our surgeons is why so many patients trust the Black Hills Regional Eye Institute for their Cataract Surgery. We perform over 3500 eye surgeries every year.

What is a Cataract?

Woman with cataracts smilingAre you developing cataracts or have you been told by an eye doctor that you are in the early stages of developing cataracts? There is no need to panic, Black Hills Regional Eye Institute is here for you. Over the past 30 years, there have been huge advances made in Cataract Surgery technology.

Cataract Surgery is a safe and relatively simple outpatient procedure where the natural lens inside of the eye that has become cloudy from cataract formation is removed and replaced with an artificial lens, called an Intraocular Lens (IOL). Generally, Cataract Surgery is done on an outpatient basis and normally takes between 15 to 30 minutes. Patients who have had Cataract Surgery experience little to no pain and often can return to their normal routine the following day.

What Causes Cataracts?

Although the majority of cataracts develop on their own, as a part of the natural aging process, there are certain risk factors that can contribute to cataracts developing earlier, or at an accelerated rate.

Risk Factors include:

  • Trauma to the eye, including injury, burns, or surgery
  • Toxins, including regular use of tobacco, alcohol or corticosteroids
  • Exposure to radiation, X-rays, or ultraviolet(UV)light
  • Certain diseases, including diabetes, hypothyroidism, and glaucoma

Heredity can also play a factor in determining when cataracts will begin to form in your lenses.

What Are The Symptoms Of Cataracts?

Symptoms include:

  • Blurred Vision – Blurriness is one of the earliest and most common signs of cataracts.
  • Faded or dull colors – Colors appear less vivid than they once were, Certain shades can become more difficult to differentiate from one another.
  • Poor night vision – At first, you may simply need more light to read, Over time, you may find it more difficult to see objects in the dark, particularly when driving.
  • Sensitivity to light – Lights may seem uncomfortably bright, or appear to have halos around them.

View or Download our Guide to Cataracts

Cataracts Overview



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Learn More about Intraocular Lens Technology

An intraocular lens (IOL) is an implantable artificial lens, designed to replace the natural lens of the eye. A typical intraocular lens is, meaning that it has a fixed, single viewing distance. Therefore, individuals with an intraocular lens may still require corrective lenses in order to read or drive following treatment. However, some patients may be candidates for premium multifocal lenses, which greatly reduce dependence on corrective lenses. During a personal consultation at the Black Hills Regional Eye Institute, one of our physicians will be able to evaluate your case and determine if implantation of an intraocular lens (IOL) at our Rapid City or one of our satellite locations meets your individual needs.Intraocular Lens Examples

The implantation is conducted under local anesthesia, and the patient remains conscious for the entire procedure. Once the patient has been anesthetized, one of our physicians makes a small incision that allows the placement of the flexible IOL. The entire procedure usually takes between twenty and thirty minutes and  depending on the case, with complete recovery taking two to three weeks. If the implantation is being performed in conjunction with cataract surgery, the intraocular lens will be placed in the eye following the removal of the cataract, through the same small incision.

If you are suffering from serious vision problems, especially clouded vision from cataracts, it may be time to consider IOL implantation. Please contact the Eye Institute today to schedule a personal consultation to discuss the intraocular lens and its implantation at our Rapid City location or one of our satellite surgery locations including, Spearfish, Deadwood, Pierre, Winner, Huron or Gillette WY.


Cataract Surgery procedure diagram


Learn More about the LenSx® Laser – A New era in Refractive Cataract Surgery!

It’s here! The Black Hills Regional Eye Institute introduces bladeless laser cataract surgery using LenSx® Laser technology.

LenSx System


In March of 2014, the Eye Institute was the first practice in Western South Dakota and neighboring states to perform this customized laser cataract


The LenSx® laser also helps soften cataracts for easier removal. During surgery, the clouded lenses are removed and, in most instances, replaced with an intraocular lens, referred to as IOLs. Today, we are able to offer patients a variety of options for IOLs to accommodate individual needs.

Advantages of Bladeless Laser Cataract Surgery

Bladeless vs Laser Cataract Surgery

  • Correcting Astigmatism with extremely precise laser incisions
  • Using less energy in the eye to remove the cataract
  • Provides extremely efficient and safe treatment for very hard or mature cataracts
  • Protects the lens capsule during surgery and provides consistent implant placement

Eye with a Cataract vs. healthy eyes

Intraocular Lens Candidates

Anyone who is a candidate for cataract surgery is also a potential candidate for an intraocular lens. Insertion of an intraocular lens for the treatment of cataracts is one of the most commonly performed eye surgery procedures. Once the clouded cataract is removed, the intraocular lens will be implanted to replace the natural lens of the eye. With the cataract removed and the new IOL in place, almost all patients regain good if not superior vision. And there is no chance of the cataract returning since the natural lens has been removed.

While the use of IOLs in cataract surgery is quite common, intraocular lenses also serve another purpose. For patients looking to correct severe refractive errors, the implantation of intraocular lenses can permanently correct their vision. Individuals with serious vision problems will not be viable candidates for LASIK, iLASIK, or LASEK; fortunately, the implantation of an intraocular lens can correct dramatic refractive errors that these other procedures cannot.


Comments from our patients

“Thank you all! I am enjoying a brighter world today.” Marilyn B

“Efficient, friendly, kind staff. Everyone did a very good job answering my questions and making me feel comfortable emotionally and physically.” Cheryl W

“Received, timely, professional, caring services from all staff. Will return for follow-up care and future annual check-ups. Thank yo to all for improving my eyesight.” Mary Ann J

“Your Staff is just Outstanding! “ Kenna R

“Completely satisfied with the outcome of cataract surgery of both eyes. I feel my vision is back to normal – 20/20. The professional yet courteous treatment by all your staff alleviated any concerns I had before procedures. Thank you, I feel great! “ LaVern J.

“I am so delighted with my new eyesight! Thank you so much Dr. Khachikian and your staff! Everyone at B.H. Regional Eye Institute is so nice & friendly. It was a pleasure to work with all of you. Thanks so much!” Alice H

“Thank you so much for actually listening and accommodating my preferences. This is not usually the case with medical professionals. That alone puts your facility and staff head and shoulders above the rest. Outstanding work.” Sundai B

“The people at the Eye Institute are wonderful and have made what started as a very scary experience into a completely positive result. Thank you so much!” Cindy C.