Cataracts develop as part of the aging process. By age 75, about 70 percent of people will have cataracts. With age, our eye’s lens slowly becomes less flexible, less transparent and blocks vision. Then areas of the lens become cloudy as protein in the lens begins to clump together.
During typical cataract surgery, the natural lens of the eye is removed using a phacoemulsification process. This is a process where the lens is liquefied and then removed with an ultrasound instrument. The lens is then replaced with an intraocular lens implant (IOL). The surgery itself takes only about 10 to 15 minutes to complete. This is an outpatient procedure that does not require the patient be put to sleep, and is quick, painless, and easy for the patient to go through.
Although vision can be better the day after surgery, best vision takes about 1 month. At this time the eye is healed, and that is when the eye is stable enough for a new glasses prescription, frequently needed to achieve maximum vision.
Patients have an important decision to make when facing cataract surgery. Although the primary purpose of cataract surgery is vision restoration, patients can frequently upgrade the lens implant type to improve their spectacle independence. This decision involves thought about how you will see after your surgery.
With the intraocular lens implants that are available today, your surgeon can help you accomplish clear vision with reduced dependence on prescription glasses or contacts. When planning the Intra Ocular Lens or IOL type, the doctor needs to know if you prefer to wear glasses full time, or if you hope to decrease your use of glasses, at least for some tasks.
If you desire to increase your spectacle independence after surgery your eye surgeons, Dr. Robert C. Mathews and Dr. Brian P. Desmond, in our Ophthalmology Department, offer the latest technology to accomplish this.
Some options are described below.
- Basic IOL: This IOL restores clear vision at a single fixed focus. Usually, this is for distance vision. Glasses will be required for near vision. Alternatively, the basic monofocal IOL can be set for near vision. Glasses then will be required for distance vision. The basic monofocal IOL does not correct astigmatism. If astigmatism is present, glasses will be required for clear vision at all ranges of vision.
- Toric IOL: This IOL corrects astigmatism at the same time as the cataract surgery. This reduces the need for glasses at a fixed focus. Usually, this is for distance vision. Glasses will be required for near vision. Alternatively, the Toric IOL can be set for near vision. Glasses then will be required for distance. Toric IOLs and basic IOL’s can also be used for monovision, with one eye set for distance, and one eye set for near.
- Restor Multifocal IOL: This IOL corrects both distance and near vision simultaneously. It reduces the need for glasses at distance and near. Glasses may still be needed for some tasks. This lens produces halos around lights at night. It does not function well if astigmatism is present.
- Crystalens Multifocal IOL: This IOL can flex within the eye, allowing it to focus at different distances. It reduces the need for glasses at distance and near. Because of the flexible nature of this lens, the focal range is slightly unpredictable. Glasses may be required for some tasks. It does not function well if astigmatism is present or with prolonged very near work.