If you are nearing the age for cataract surgery and want a reliable vision correction solution premium lens implants might be a good idea. Cataracts can form at any point in your life but typically form after the age of 55 years old. These lens implants are also referred to as "lifestyle lens implants" because afford excellent vision sometimes without the need for glasses. Before choosing that premium lens implants are right for you it is important to discuss your lens implant options with your cataract surgeon. Before we discuss the exact premium lens options we want to review the natural lens of you eye so you can begin to understand what gets replaced in cataract surgery and why a lens is so important to how you SEE after the surgery.
The lens of your eye is an important structure. In order to see clearly at all distances (from up close to far away), your eye must be able to change its focus power. The lens of your eye is responsible for this change in focus - it changes its shape to bring whatever you're looking at into clear focus. In your early 40's, you lost the ability to see up close and required bifocals, or at least reading glasses. This was because, as we age, the lens hardens and cannot change its shape anymore, and in order to focus at different distances, more than one glasses prescription was required.
As we age even more, the lens may become cloudy. A cloudy lens is called a cataract. Cataract is a common problem among aging Americans, and cataract surgery is the most common surgery performed on adults in the United States. In cataract surgery, the cloudy lens is removed. In order for you to see clearly afterward, a new lens (called an intraocular lens implant, or IOL) must be inserted at the time of surgery, or on very rare occasions, during a future surgery.
Monofocal IOL’s are routinely used to replace the natural lens which is removed during cataract surgery. These lenses have a single focal point and help provide vision correction at either near or far distances. Most insurance companies will help cover the cost of a monofocal lens after cataract surgery.
With the latest technological advances, surgeons are able to provide premium lens options to qualifying patients in order to achieve better visual outcomes post operatively. This technology is similar to correction found in bifocal or progressive lenses available in eyeglasses.
Multifocal IOL lens implants enable patients to see at near far and intermediate distances after surgery. The 2 major brand names in this category are the AcrySof® ReSTOR® IOL by Alcon and the Tecnis® by AMO. (Recently acquired by Abbott). With a multifocal IOL the central portion of the lens has a series of steps that are carved in a very precise arrangement with varying step heights and distances between steps. Each of the steps of this diffractive optic bends the incoming light differently; creating a near focus that is quite separated from the distance focus formed by the remaining refractive portion of the lens. This large separation between the two images allows for less artifacts or distortion in either of the images, providing good quality of vision at both distance and near.
Accommodating lens implants have garnered a significant amount of positive review and testimonials from thousands of early patient adopters. These special lenses are designed to mimic or accommodate, just like the eyes natural lens would. The hinge design of the lens enables it to move inside the eye just like the original natural lens. The end result is that patients can see better at multiple distances. The only accommodating IOL available is known as the Crystalens by Bausch & Lomb.
Toric Lens Implants are a unique type of lens implant that are used to correct astigmatism. A toric lens implant is NOT the only method of astigmatism correction so consult a doctor about the current possibilities. Asymmetric steepening of the cornea or natural lens causes light to be focused unevenly, which is the main optical problem in astigmatism. To individuals with uncorrected astigmatism, images may look blurry or shadowed. Astigmatism can accompany any form of refractive error and is very common. Astigmatism can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, corneal relaxing incisions, laser vision correction, and special implant lenses. If a cataract patient has astigmatism and has aspirations to be glasses free after surgery the Toric lens implant is a good option. Toric lens implants are NOT a correction option for presbyopia. The ACRYSOF® Toric lens implant is a popular choice for this type of lens.
Specialty lens implants can be very exciting for patients that want to have a new level of spectacle freedom after cataract surgery or with clear lens extraction. Due to the complex nature of each persons visual system, it is difficult for a patient to make an assessment about the right lens, without consulting a medical ophthalmologist. Therefore, we highly suggest a consultation with the Regional Eye Associates medical surgeons before making any decision on a lens implant. For second opinions on lens implants please feel free to consult with our staff and doctors.
*As with any surgical procedure there are risks along with benefits. It is important to discuss your surgical procedure with your surgeon to fully understand the risks and benefits.