What are Intraocular Lenses?
The lens of your eye helps you see by bending (refracting) light rays. When your eyes are healthy, your lenses are clear. But if cataracts develop, they may become cloudy. In these situations, an intraocular lens (or IOL) can be surgically inserted to replace your natural lens. The implant is made of clear plastic or silicone and is roughly the shape and size of a dime.
The surgery itself is relatively straightforward, with no major anesthesia or dramatic recovery time required. You can generally expect to be sent back home within 2–3 hours, though you’ll need to have a driver at the ready.
Mild risks may include infection, loosening of the lens, lens rotation, inflammation, and nighttime halos, but these are the same common risks of any eye surgery.
The FDA has approved IOLs for implantation in individuals eighteen years and older. In the case of younger patients, the American Academy for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus recommends a careful eye examination and thorough conversation between the child’s parents and doctor before proceeding with any IOL surgery.
Zaina Al-Mohtaseb, MD, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at Baylor College of Medicine, described her ideal IOL recipient to Review of Ophthalmology: “Patients with excellent ocular surfaces are the first indication of a great candidate . . .They should also have no co-existing ocular pathology and would like to be glasses-independent for most things, but understand they might need glasses for small print.”
Pre-operative conversations with your eye doctor about your eye health, and what to expect from IOL surgery will be helpful in determining whether it is right for you.
Just like prescription eyeglasses, IOLs come in different strengths and focusing powers.
The most common is the traditional monofocal lens. “These lenses do not address astigmatism or presbyopia,” Ophthalmic Professional cautions. “[P]atients will require glasses for optimal vision after surgery.”
But thanks to continued research and developments in technology, there are advanced technology lenses, alternatives to the monofocal lens:
- Toric IOLs – Designed to correct astigmatism, as well as myopia and hyperopia. These lenses allow the surgeon to change the lens orientation while inside the eye to ensure astigmatism is properly corrected. According to a 2017 study published in the Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, “Toric IOLs are universally recommended in cases with significant preoperative corneal astigmatism of 1.5 D or more.”
- Presbyopia-Correcting Lens Implants – Presbyopia-correcting lens implants correct distance vision while also reducing or completely eliminating the dependence on reading glasses after cataract surgery. In other words, these lens implants allow you to see at multiple distances without using glasses. Of note, there are also toric presbyopia-correcting lens implants for patients with astigmatism who also want to decrease the need for reading glasses after surgery.
Determining the right lens for you still depends on several factors, including your current eye health, vision levels, and result expectations. If you feel you might benefit from IOL surgery, our award-winning doctors are here to discuss these matters and more with you. Request an appointment online or call 404-351-2220 to schedule.