Saturday, September 19, 2020

Having Cataract Surgery? Which Type of Lens Is Best for You?

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, fully half of adults will have developed cataracts by the time they reach age 75. This common condition occurs when the eye’s lens becomes cloudy, causing blurred vision. 

Surgery to remove the natural lens and replace it with an artificial one, known as an intraocular lens (IOL), is safe and effective. It is usually performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthetic (and, in some cases, a sedative to relieve the patient’s anxiety or fear).

Before you go under the laser, however, you will need to decide which type of IOL will best suit your needs. Your ophthalmologist will conduct a pre-surgery examination, at which you’ll discuss the differences between each kind. They will make a recommendation, based on your eye’s health, your vision, and your lifestyle, as to which is the best choice.

Monofocal Lenses

This is the most common type of lens used by cataract surgeons. As you may know, the prefix “mono” indicates something singular, and of course “focal” refers to vision and focus. A monofocal lens provides sharp, clear eyesight, but at only one particular distance. For example, some people choose to have clear vision between 18 and 36 inches away, so that they can easily see their computer screen. You could choose distance vision, and wear glasses for up-close activities such as reading or crafting. Or you might decide to opt for lenses that give you good vision at a shorter distance, but use glasses if you need to see far away – say, when you are driving.

Multifocal Lenses

As you might have already guessed, multifocal lenses allow you to see at different distances, just like bifocal, multifocal or progressive glasses do. In theory, this choice means that you won’t have to augment your vision with eyeglasses. 

These lenses do have something of a “learning curve” associated with them. For instance, the zones of focus provided by multifocal lenses might not have very good depth perception, and so at first, you’re liable to stumble when going down steps or misjudge the distance between your cup of coffee and the tabletop.

Over time, your brain will adjust and learn how to select the right focus automatically.

One disadvantage of multifocal lenses is that they can cause more visual disturbances such as glare or halos, making it much more difficult to drive at night. If that activity plays a big role in your life, multifocals might not be right for you.

Accommodative and Toric Lenses

Lastly, there are two newcomers to the cataract correction landscape: accommodative lenses and toric lenses. Both of these lens types are an option for folks who don’t want to wear glasses, but who are concerned about the side effects of multifocal lenses. Just like your eye’s natural lenses do, these lenses move and shift in shape as they focus on objects that are near, far, and in the middle distance. 

Toric and accommodative lenses are very similar and work in the same way, flattening or curving as needed to provide visual acuity at any distance. There is one significant difference, however: while accommodative lenses only correct for nearsightedness or farsightedness, toric lenses can also correct astigmatism. 

“Both of these types of lenses are very new,” says a Clarity Vision eye doctor in Holly Springs. “They show a great deal of promise when it comes to helping cataract patients regain their vision without the problems associated with traditional lens types.”

Additionally, accommodative and toric lenses, because they use advanced technologies, are more expensive than their mono- or multi-focul counterparts. Expect to pay between an additional $1,500 and $3,000 per eye, on top of the standard cataract surgery costs, for one of these specialized lenses. They are usually not covered by either most private insurance policies or Medicare.  

This is a guest blog entry.

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