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Intraocular Lenses

Intraocular lenses (IOLs) are used to replace or enhance your eye’s natural lenses to correct one or more vision conditions. The main application for intraocular lenses is in cataract surgery, but because advances in lens technology allow good vision at many distances, they are now being used for vision correction in people who want to leave glasses or contact lenses behind but either cannot or choose not to have LASIK or similar refractive surgeries.

Intraocular Lenses and Cataract Surgery

In cataract surgery, the natural lens of your eye is removed and replaced with an intraocular lens. In the past, most intraocular lenses, were monofocal lenses designed only for distance vision, making all patients effectively farsighted after cataract surgery. This meant that after your cataract surgery you could count on wearing reading glasses and/or bifocals.

Now, advances in intraocular lens technology can help you see at a range of distances after your cataract surgery and may even correct pre-existing astigmatism. Deciding which IOL is right for you is a decision for you and your ophthalmologist while considering how you use your vision in daily life.

Monofocal Lenses are still a good option for many people who don't mind wearing reading glasses, or those for whom the additional expense of other IOL options seems a burden. Although Medicare covers the cost of cataract surgery, including the cost of a monofocal replacement lens, the additional cost of more advanced IOLs is out-of-pocket, which can be a factor for some people. Another option is the toric IOL, which, although a monofocal IOL, allows the correction of astigmatism during the cataract procedure to give you clearer vision after cataract surgery.

Multifocal IOLs are designed to allow cataract patients to see at different distances by diffracting light through multiple focal zones.

  • One type is known as the refractive multifocal lens, which has several specific zones designed to focus light from different distances on the retina to provide good vision at various distances. The ReZoom™ lens is this type of multifocal IOL.
  • Another type of IOL is known as an apodized diffractive lens, meaning that it has numerous focal zones that step gradually from the center of the lens to the outside of the lens. Examples of these lenses are the ReSTOR® and the Tecnis®. These lenses may produce a varying degree of night-vision problems such as glare and halos, which tends to be greater for the apodized lenses.

Accommodating IOLs attempt to preserve the natural process by which the eye focuses itself, known as accommodation. Accommodation is performed by a tiny muscle in the eye, known as the ciliary muscle, which moves and changes the shape of the natural lens to alter its optical properties. Accommodating IOLs use the ciliary muscle to move them and or change their shape. Currently, only one accommodating IOL, the Crystalens®, is FDA-approved for use in the United States, but approval of a second option, Synchrony®, may soon be granted.

Implantable Contact Lenses

Implantable contact lenses, properly known as phakic IOLs, are intraocular lenses used to correct vision in men and women who want to be free of glasses or contacts, but either cannot or do not wish to have LASIK or other refractive surgeries. These lenses are placed in the eye either in front of the iris or behind the iris. Two types of phakic IOLs have been approved for use in the United States: Verisyse™ and Visian™.

Find out about Experimental Lenses for RLE.

If you would like to learn whether these lenses can provide a good vision solution for you, schedule an intraocular lens consultation with a local eye doctor today.

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