Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 40 and are the principal cause of blindness in the world. Today, cataracts affect more than 22 million Americans and as the U.S. population ages, more than 30 million Americans are expected to have cataracts by the year 2020 according to Prevent Blindness America. With these facts in mind, it became apparent that the topic of cataracts should be addressed. Over the course of the next several posts, we will address what are cataracts, what are the symptoms, how are they treated, and what options do you have?
What is an Intraocular Lens?
An intraocular lens is a replacement lens placed in the eye during surgery and is a permanent solution to help improve your current vision. These devices are made of special plastics and implanted within the eye after the cataract is removed to help focus light images. Monofocal intraocular lenses focus the image only at one single focal point. In recent years, new lenses have been developed that help patients focus near, intermediate, and distance. Lenses have also been developed to treat astigmatism. These intraocular lenses allow a patient to be less dependent on glasses.
1. Spherical Monofocal Intraocular Lens
A standard lens provides clear vision at a single, fixed focal point. This means the surgeon can calculate the lens power needed to help improve a patient’s vision at either distance or near. Many patients prefer the distance correction especially if they enjoy activities requiring good far away vision, such as driving, watching television, or sports. Reading glasses are needed with this option. Other patients may desire to have the IOL power calculated to help them with near activities such as reading or using the computer. In such cases, glasses for distance activities will be required.
2. Aspheric Monofocal Lens
For vision to be sharp and clear, all the light has to focus onto one focal point. The curvature of the periphery of the lens has to decrease while the central curvature remains the same. This non-spherical intraocular lens can mimic your natural lens and is called an aspheric lens. The Softec® HD lens has a patented aspheric design on both the front and back surfaces, which is designed to provide crisper and sharper vision. This lens can help improve the quality of vision in all lighting conditions.
3. Accommodating Intraocular Lens
The Crystalens® is the only accommodative lens approved by the FDA and is intended to provide a continuous range of vision including distance, intermediate, and near. It is designed to mimic the eye’s natural process of accommodation and helps to lessen the dependence on corrective lenses.
4. Multifocal Intraocular Lens
A multifocal intraocular lens is designed to provide quality near, intermediate, and distance vision by combining the strengths of optical principals used in microscopes and telescopes. For most patients, a multifocal IOL delivers excellent near and distance vision with good intermediate vision thus reducing the need for glasses. For some patients, there is a chance of halos or rings around light that may occur. Over time, most patients grow accustomed to this and cease to notice them while a small percentage can continue to see them long after recover.
5. Toric Intraocular Lens for Astigmatism
For patients with existing corneal astigmatism, the AcrySof® Toric IOL implants can give patients quality vision with less dependence on their glasses. This IOL is placed in the eye at a precise location in order to reduce or eliminate corneal astigmatism and significantly improve distance vision and lessen the dependence on glasses. Patients with a toric IOL usually wear glasses for tasks such as reading or working on the computer.
6. TRULIGN™ Toric IOL
Approved by the FDA in May 2013, the TRULIGN toric lens both reduces the negative impact of pre-existing astigmatism on postoperative vision and also imparts excellent distance and intermediate vision and functional near vision, all through a single surgical procedure. The result is a reduced need for patients to wear glasses for certain activities following cataract surgery.
Will insurance cover these types of lenses?
While the latest technology in intraocular lenses offer an attractive benefit to patients, these IOL’s are outside the standard coverage of Medicare and third-party payers. This means patients who desire an upgrade from a standard monofocal IOL will be required to pay additional charges beyond those associated with standard cataract surgery.
How will I know which lens is right for me?
Not every lens is an option for every patient. Pre-existing medical conditions, lifestyle, and expectations all play a role in determining which lens is right for you. It is recommended to schedule an appointment with an eye care professional to discuss your options in more detail so you may make an informed decision. If you would like to learn more about cataracts and their treatment options visit www.coavision.com.