CATARACT SURGERY AND SPECIALTY LENS IMPLANTS
A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens of the eye. Cataract development is a natural aging process, though sometimes cataract progression is accelerated by various factors. If cataract development begins to significantly affect your vision, sometimes a change in your glasses prescription can improve your vision enough that surgery could be delayed. In most cases, it is also fine to "just live with" the visual symptoms from cataracts. Surgery may be considered when a change in your glasses prescription will not likely improve your vision, and you feel debilitated with your present level of visual function.
Cataract surgery involves removing the natural lens of the eye. In order to restore the focusing properties of the eye, an intraocular lens implant (IOL) is placed in the eye after the cataract is removed. lOLs are available in varying powers, and the power that is placed in your eye is based on your eye's specific measurements. For some patients, cataract surgery can reduce the need for glasses or contact lenses for distance vision, near vision, or a range in between the two.
lOLs are available in a variety of styles. The monofocal type provides good distance, intermediate, or near vision, but not all three. With this type of lens implant, most often a power is selected that will provide your individual eye with good distance vision without glasses, but in order to see for reading you would need to wear reading glasses.
Advanced technology lOLs can decrease your dependency on glasses by providing a fuller range of vision than monofocal lOLs, and are called multifocal or accommodating lOLs. Specific examples of these lOLs available at Hecker Ophthalmology are the AcrySof ReSTOR IQ and ReZoom multifocal lOLs, and Crystalens accommodating IOL. These lOLs can reduce your need for glasses for near, distance, and ranges in between.
Not everyone is a candidate for multifocal or accommodating lOLs. Some eyes have a condition called astigmatism, which is common and involves the presence of varying amounts of curvature on the cornea. It is normal for a person with astigmatism to be dependent on glasses or contact lenses in order to have their best vision. Astigmatism can sometimes be reduced at the time of cataract surgery with a procedure called limbal relaxing incisions. However, limbal relaxing incisions are not always the best choice. Another option for eyes with certain amounts of astigmatism is the AcrySof Toric IOL. This is an IOL which provides astigmatism correction incorporated into the IOL, thus reducing one's need for glasses post-operatively.
As you can see, now there are many considerations and choices when it comes to meeting your visual needs with cataract surgery. It is important to know that there is never a 100% guarantee you will not have to wear glasses any longer after cataract surgery. Even with the newer technology lOLs described above, one may still need to wear eyeglasses for certain activities, such as extended reading or driving at night. However, many patients now enjoy excellent results with all of the above described lOLs.
Cataract surgery itself has an excellent safety record, but is a decision that should be entered into with proper counseling from your eye surgeon about your potential risks and benefits. In learning your options for improved vision, it is best to begin with a comprehensive eye exam and consultation with your eye surgeon. All of the above options are available at Hecker Ophthalmology. Based on the results of your individual eye exam and visual needs, your eye surgeon will provide you with the information and appropriate recommendations that you need in order to see the world more clearly.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT lOLs
How do I know if I am a candidate for the AcrySof ReSTOR IQ, ReZoom, or Crystalens lOLs?
The best way to know is to have a consultation with your eye surgeon, after receiving a comprehensive eye examination. In general, the overall health of the eye must be good. Eye diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, or corneal diseases can limit your choices. Those with increased astigmatism would likely need further laser correction later on, in order to reduce the astigmatism.
What does my insurance cover?
If a monofocal IOL is placed with cataract surgery, Medicare and most private insurance companies cover the costs (with the exception of deductibles and co-pays).
If an advanced technology IOL (AcrySof ReSTOR IQ, ReZoom, Crystalens, and AcrySof Toric) is placed with cataract surgery, the cost of cataract surgery and anesthesia generally is covered. But, the extra cost for the advanced technology IOL and the services provided with it is not included. You are responsible for the added costs, which vary depending on the type of IOL you choose. Prior to your final decision regarding your IOL choice, our surgical counselor will clearly review with you your estimated costs and payment options.
Which advanced technology IOL is best for me?
That depends on your individual visual needs and activities. Your eye surgeon's recommendation will be based on your assessment of your visual priorities regarding your distance, intermediate, and near vision. Certain lOLs may better match your visual needs than others. Having these exciting choices available now makes your opportunity for improved vision with cataract surgery even brighter.
To learn more, click on the following links:
All About Vision
Cataract Surgery Animations
Cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens. When we look at something, light rays travel into our eye through the pupil and are focused through the lens onto the retina, a layer of light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye. The lens must be clear in order to focus light properly onto the retina. If the lens has become cloudy, this is called a cataract.