What Are Intraocular Lenses (IOLs)?
When a cataract-clouded natural lens is removed from your eye, it needs to be replaced. The replacement lens is called an intraocular lens (IOL). It is an artificial lens that is implanted inside the eye permanently. The FDA first approved the use of intraocular lenses for cataract replacement in the early 1980s. Since those early IOLs, technological improvements have created a wide variety of different IOLs to choose from. We describe them below.
If I Have Cataracts, Do I Have to Get an Intraocular Lens?
There is no cure for cataracts. The only treatment is the removal of the cataract-clouded natural lens, replacing it with an artificial IOL. If cataracts are not surgically treated, the cloudiness will continue to progress until the eye eventually becomes legally blind. There’s no reason to avoid this surgery. It is incredibly fast, incredibly successful, and returns crystal clear vision to the patient.
What Are the Benefits of IOLs?
What is the benefit of having crystal clear vision, free from the increasing cloudiness caused by cataracts? Patients usually don’t realize how much their developing cataract has impacted their vision quality. Because the clouding in the lens develops slowly, the patient doesn’t sense the quality deterioration until it gets to the point where night driving and such is impacted. Today’s choices of IOLs allow you to, basically, choose how good you want your vision to be. You can opt to have clear vision at all distances with the new multi-focal IOLs. Or you can correct for either distance or up close vision, and use eyeglasses for the other. Today’s IOLs can even adjust for astigmatism and improve the refractive errors of near- and farsightedness.
What Are Multifocal IOLs?
Multifocal IOLs correct the full range of vision. Previous lens replacement technologies provided only one improved focal point, distance. This left people dependent on readers or bifocals after cataract surgery. Furthermore, in the past, those who were not yet cataract surgery candidates had no good alternatives for readers, bifocals, or trifocals. Recent advances in lens technology now make it possible to improve vision at all ranges, near through distance, with increased freedom from glasses or contact lenses. Our doctors are proud to offer the most advanced multifocal and accommodating IOLs to give our patients the best possible vision.
How Do I Know Which IOL Would Be Right for Me?
You’ll choose the type of IOL you want implanted prior to your procedure. Your Eye & LASIK doctor will discuss with you the pros and cons of the different lens options. Cost may be a factor, although paying a little more for the latest multifocal lenses is probably worth it over the long run, as they allow clear vision at all ranges of distance. Otherwise, if you’re OK using reading glasses for up-close vision, you may opt for a monofocal lens that provides crystal clear distance vision. This will be a less expensive option.
This is an important decision. You can start with the information on our page here, but it behooves you to also do research on your own into the IOL options.
Advanced Lens Implants for Cataracts
Lens Implant Types
During your visit, our doctors will consider all aspects of your eye health, as well as your lifestyle, personality, and expectations. For example, how much reading or computer work do you do? And what do you hope to achieve? From what they learn, our doctors will discuss all of your options and recommend the IOL that is best for you.
Advanced cataract lens implants restore fuller-range vision after cataract surgery. Lenses such as ReSTOR, Crystalens and Tecnis can deliver clear vision – near through far – without glasses. And Toric lens implants correct astigmatism and sharpen distance vision, freeing you to spend more of your day without glasses.
Tecnis® Multifocal IOL
The Tecnis lens is a multifocal lens proven to provide excellent vision at all distances, under all lighting conditions – day and night. For example, if you play golf, you may be able to see where your drive lands, sink your putt, and write down the score without wearing glasses!
Nine out of ten patients enjoy freedom from glasses after receiving the Tecnis multifocal lens.
The Tecnis lens is ideal for those who experience one or more of these symptoms:
- Have difficulty reading
- Difficulty seeing objects up close
- Difficulty with driving, especially at night
- Need for bifocals
- Frequent changes in their eyeglass prescription
ReSTOR® Multifocal IOL
The ReSTOR lens is an advanced multifocal IOL that corrects both distance and near vision. The ReSTOR IOL is designed to provide excellent reading vision and a high level of glasses independence.
In a clinical trial, four out of five ReSTOR patients reported never wearing glasses following their procedure.
Anyone who desires multifocal vision without having to use reading glasses or contact lenses may be a candidate. Although the ReSTOR lens was originally designed for patients with cataracts, it is not a requirement to qualify. Those with chronic infections, uncontrolled diabetes or other health issues may need to wait until these conditions are under control before undergoing eye surgery.
Crystalens is the first and only naturally focusing, or accommodating, vision-correction lens implant. The design of this lens has “hinges” that work with your eyes’ muscles, allowing the lens to shift focus, providing the eye a continuous range of focus.
In clinical trials, Crystalens patients had excellent distance and intermediate vision (24” to 32”) without glasses.
With Monovision, patients can improve their range of vision when they combine monofocal IOLs. One eye will provide distance vision while the other provides near vision. However, not everyone can adapt comfortably to this method as the eyes are less balanced.
Is Cataract Surgery Performed At A Hospital?
Our surgeons perform the lens replacement surgery at an outpatient or hospital facility. The patient should plan to be at the surgery center for around 2-3 hours.
Preparing for Cataract Surgery
To help prevent infection and help the eye heal, your doctor will prescribe antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and steroid eye drops. In some cases, the doctor will prescribe additional medication to help control eye pressure or other conditions.
How Soon After My Cataract Surgery Will I See Clearly?
After your surgery, your vision will be blurry at first, but it rapidly improves in the first day or two and you will be able to notice an immediate improvement in your vision. Most patients can return to their normal activities the very next day. Full healing can take up to two months, but your vision should be clear within a week or two.
What Will My Recovery Be like After Cataract Surgery?
Believe it or not, this incredible surgery takes just 5-10 minutes! Afterward, we’ll place an eye patch on your treated eye. We give you a protective shield that you will wear when sleeping for the first several days of your recovery. Your vision will be blurry at first. This begins to rapidly improve in just the first couple of days. Your eye may itch somewhat, but, obviously, you must not rub or touch the area. Heavy lifting, bending over, and other actions that create pressure on your eyes must be completely avoided. We provide you with eye drops that prevent inflammation and infection. They also control the pressure inside your eye when healing.
Full healing can take up to two months, but you can return to normal activity in just a few days. You may or may not require glasses for some tasks after your surgery. This depends on the IOL you selected. If your other eye also has a cataract, we usually schedule the second surgery one to two months after the first.
Are There Any Risks To Lens Replacement After Cataracts?
As with any surgical procedure, there will be risks involved. Some of the risks that come with lens replacement surgery can include:
- Retinal detachment
- Increase in eye pressure
- Reactions to medication
- Vision changes
Prior to your surgery, our doctors will discuss all these risk and benefits with you. There may also be some side effects, such as redness, scratchiness or sensitivity to light after the procedure.