So You Have a Cataract…What Now?
Over fifty percent of people over the age of 60 (and quite a few younger than that) suffer from cataracts. Almost everyone develops cataracts as they grow older. Cataract formations occur at different rates and can affect one or both eyes.
A cataract is a progressive clouding of the eye’s natural lens. It interferes with light passing through the eye to the retina. Aging and other factors cause proteins in the eye’s lens to clump together forming cloudy areas. Early changes may not disturb vision, but over time cataracts typically result in blurred or fuzzy vision and sensitivity to light. People with progressed cataracts often say they feel as if they are looking through a waterfall or a piece of wax paper.
During cataract surgery, your cloudy lens (the cataract) is removed and replaced by a clear lens implant (IOL). If surgery is recommended for you, there is GREAT NEWS! Thanks to modern technology, you now have the opportunity to choose a replacement lens that can help you reclaim much of your youthful vision. Basic lens implants can thin your glasses prescription and restore clarity to your vision. Today’s advanced technology lenses can dramatically reduce or even eliminate your dependence on glasses!
It is important for you to understand the lens replacement options that are available to you so that you can be prepared to make a decision with your doctor when the time is right for you. These implants are made to last FOREVER and should NEVER need to be replaced. The following is some general information for you about lens options for cataract surgery:
Advanced Technology Implants:
A multifocal implant is like putting a bifocal in your eye. The goal is to have complete independence from glasses, for both near and far vision. Well over 80% of patients choosing a multifocal implant describe their use of glasses as “never” or “rarely.” Some people will experience slight halos around lights at night, but these usually subside over the first couple of months, if they are noticed at all. This is the lens to choose if you don’t want glasses.
A Crystalens implant is a flexible implant that moves in the eye. The best thing about the Crystalens is it has the best optic results of any implant we have. Thus it gives the sharpest, most crisp vision with no rings or halos. Although most people find that they still need reading glasses for smaller print, being flexible and moving also gives you a better range of vision. Therefore, you can expect good distance and intermediate vision (i.e. eating, dashboard, computer), with some near vision. Crystalens is also very good with astigmatism correction. This is the lens to choose if you want the best distance vision possible and do not mind wearing weak powered reading glasses for very small print at near.
An astigmatism is an eye that is out of round. A round eye sees better than an eye that is not round. Most astigmatism can be corrected with corneal relaxing incisions at the time of cataract surgery to make the eye more round. Large amounts of astigmatism may need a Toric lens with built-in astigmatism correction to correct all of the astigmatism. The Toric lens or relaxing incisions can usually give you good vision at distance for driving, TV, and sporting events. Glasses will be needed for reading, as well as intermediate vision.
*Crystalens also has a toric option to correct astigmatism, and all of the benefits of the Crystalens listed above still apply.*
Basic Monofocal Lens:
Monofocal lenses provide clear vision for a single distance (i.e. near or far), and are usually chosen to make your distance vision more clear. With a monofocal lens implant, even if you do not currently need to wear glasses for near vision activities (i.e. reading the newspaper, doing crossword puzzles, dialing a phone, or working at a computer), after surgery there is a high likelihood that you will. You may also need glasses for distance activities such as driving. Surgery with a monofocal IOL implant is covered by Medicare and most commercial insurance plans with the usual out of pocket expenses, such as your deductible, co-pays, and/or co-insurance. This is the basic option.