Cataracts affect more than 20 million Americans. The condition, known for causing cloudiness and blurriness, is caused by an accumulation of protein within the natural lens of the eye. Choosing to have cataract removal is something that every person must decide to do in their own time. Hopefully, they choose to restore their clear vision long before their quality of life is impacted by their cataracts. When a person chooses to have cataract removal surgery, they must also consider the way in which they will replace the natural lens. One cannot remove the natural lens without replacing it. To do so would leave the eye without focusing power. In the earliest days of cataract removal, patients were forced to rely on extraordinarily thick eyeglasses to have any chance at clear vision at least some of the time. Today, we have a widening variety of intraocular lenses to help each patient address their unique needs.
What Are Intraocular Lenses?
As we mentioned, it is not ideal to remove a natural lens from the eye without a clear plan to replace it. The lens of the eye is what delivers light to the back of the eye in a focused manner. The medical device that we use to replace the clouded lens is called an intraocular lens, IOL for short. The intraocular lens is made of an ultra-thin material that is not seen or felt in the eye. Before determining which type of IOL may be most appropriate for a patient, the ophthalmologist performs a comprehensive examination and evaluation of vision. In many situations, it is necessary to find a way to correct a refractive error with a special intraocular lens. Over time, several different options have been developed to correct issues like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, some of the most common refractive errors that force a person to rely on eyeglasses. Examples of IOLs that can achieve optimal vision with little to no reliance on eyeglasses after surgery include multifocal lenses, Toric lenses, Light Adjustable Lenses, and Extended Depth of Focus IOLs. We are proud to offer each of these options at our Skokie, IL ophthalmology office.
What do Premium IOLs Do?
Each type of premium intraocular lens may work a little differently than others. In most situations, patients have at least two options that may work well for them.
- Toric IOLs are made to correct astigmatism. This ocular condition blurs vision by altering the curve of the lens or the cornea. Each of these structures is involved in sending light to the back of the eye. The globe of the eye, the eyeball itself, is perfectly round like a ball. With astigmatism, the eye is more oblong like a football. This shape distorts light as it passes through the front of the eye. The Toric IOL is made to be soft enough to mold to the eye but with corrective measurements where needed to deliver light clearly and precisely through the lens and cornea.
- Multifocal lenses may be used to correct nearsightedness or farsightedness. The goal of a multifocal lens is to provide the natural accommodating powers that enable near, intermediate, and distance vision as needed as a person looks at objects at these varying distances. The multifocal lens acts as the eye’s natural bifocal to reduce or eliminate the need for eyeglasses.
- The Light Adjustable IOL is an innovative new type of intraocular lens that the doctor can refine after placement. This facilitates the clearest, most customized vision correction to date. To “activate” the LAL, the patient visits the office a few weeks after surgery. During this appointment, the lens is treated with special ultraviolet light. It may take a few visits to achieve the clarity of vision that feels perfect.
- The Extended Depth of Focus lens. Eyhance is a monofocal IOL that improves intermediate vision via a continuous change in power from the periphery to the center of the lens. As a monofocal lens, this IOL naturally also improves the quality of distance vision.
Options in cataract removal surgery have expanded in recent years, which is exciting to us because it enables us to provide even better care to our patients! To learn more about your options, contact us at 847-677-2794 for an appointment with Dr. Sondheimer.