The human eye is a sensitive and complex organ that requires precise care to maintain healthy vision. However, as you age, you may notice that your vision simply isn’t what it used to be. This can be the result of many different conditions, one of them being cataracts. The prevalence of this condition is more widespread than most believe, with the CDC projecting that 38,737,561 patients in the U.S. will be affected by the disease.
Unfortunately, when it comes to cataracts, the only way to effectively treat them is through surgery. While you may be able to alter the prescription for your contacts or glasses, this is only a temporary solution. Instead, many patients choose to go with intraocular lenses implanted in their eyes.
What are Intraocular Lenses (IOL) and Intraocular Lens Implants?
Intraocular lenses are a type of medical device that is used to improve vision in patients with cataracts. They work by replacing the lens inside your eye. Two primary materials are used to create intraocular lenses:
Acrylic Intraocular Lens Implants: Acrylic intraocular lenses are made of a thin, clear material that is used to replace the lens inside your eye following cataract surgery.
Silicone Intraocular Lens Implants: Silicone intraocular lenses are created from a different material that is hydrophobic. This means it doesn’t absorb water, which makes it perfect for use in the eyes because of their high moisture content.
Who should get an Intraocular Lens Implant?
A patient who needs cataract surgery might be an ideal candidate for an intraocular lens implant. Cataracts are characterized by cloudy patches on the lens that can cause vision loss or blurriness, and they often develop as a person ages.
An intraocular lens can be used to replace the damaged or cloudy lens, and it is often more effective than other types of surgery.
While cataract patients are the most frequent candidates for intraocular lens implants, a person who has suffered a previous eye trauma may also benefit from this type of procedure.
How Do You Know If You Need an Intraocular Lens?
One of the first signs that a person may need an intraocular lens is if their vision becomes blurry. Patients who are experiencing any changes in clarity, double vision, or other eye symptoms should consult with an ophthalmologist as soon as possible to see if this type of surgery is necessary.
There are several distinct types of intraocular lenses available. The different lens categories are designed to address the patient’s individual needs and offer numerous benefits in terms of visual acuity and comfort levels following surgery.
Each type has its own set of pros and cons that should be considered before making a final decision. Your physician will decide which lens is best suited for you based on their diagnosis of your eyes, and then discuss their decision with you.
This type of IOL is the most common and is covered by insurance. It corrects vision at a single focal point, such as near or distance. As a result, glasses will be required to correct for vision at other focal points. Most patients opt for correcting vision at distance and wearing reading glasses after surgery.
Advantages: Cost-effective, covered by insurance
Disadvantages: Only corrects a single focal point, does not correct astigmatism
This lens is designed for patients with astigmatism. This allows for the best possible vision at a distance without glasses, however, glasses for reading are still required.
Advantages: Corrects for astigmatism resulting in clear distance vision
Disadvantages: Not covered by insurance, requires reading glasses
This IOL uses the most advanced technology to provide a range of vision, from near to intermediate to distance. It reduces dependence on glasses after surgery. In general, it requires a healthy eye to perform at its maximal potential.
Advantages: Provides a range of vision reducing dependence on glasses
Disadvantages: Not covered by insurance, can cause increased glare/halos particularly at night
Extended Depth of Focus
This lens is a great alternative to a multifocal lens for patients who may be bothered by glare/halos. It also provides a continuous range of vision like multifocal IOLs, however, near vision may not be as clear. As a result, reading glasses may be required in certain scenarios.
Advantages: Provides a range of vision reducing the dependence on glasses, reduced glare/halos
Disadvantages: Not covered by insurance, does not provide as wide a range of vision as multifocal IOLs
Intraocular Lens Implant Surgery
The intraocular lens implant procedure is a delicate process that requires precision and care.
The total time the procedure will take will depend on the type of surgery, but most lens implants take about 15 to 30 minutes. However, depending on what your surgeon finds once they make the incision, additional time may be required to make any necessary corrections.
After the intraocular lens implant, your vision should be fully restored in about two weeks. However, you will need to take a few precautions while healing so that your eyesight doesn’t worsen over time.
Some people develop dry eyes because of inflammation after their operation.
You may also feel some discomfort for a few days after your intraocular lens implant surgery, but it should subside within a week or two. Some people have reported that their vision was still cloudy and blurry post-surgery. If this happens to you, contact your ophthalmologist immediately so they can determine if everything is healing correctly.
Intraocular lenses are a safe and effective way to improve your vision. While they are most often used as part of cataract-removal surgery, they may prove beneficial to those who have experienced some other form of eye trauma.
Determining which type of intraocular lens implant is the best fit for you will involve lengthy discussions between you and your doctor. So, don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions, conduct your own personal research, and ask for second and even third opinions to be sure you’re comfortable moving forward.