What Are Intraocular Lenses (IOL)?
An intraocular lens, also known as an IOL, is an artificial replacement lens. These replacement lenses are implanted after the natural lens of the eye has been surgically removed during cataract surgery. After IOL placement, patients can often see without the need for glasses or contacts and have clear vision.
Cataract Patient Testimonial
“Dr Sondheimer performed cataract and monovision surgery for me about a month ago and I can’t describe how happy I am with results but mostly how incredibly comfortable the whole stuff was and mostly how the Doctor Sondheimer himself went above and beyond while preparing for both of my procedures…He’s a great professional, very knowledgeable, and very approachable. I was amazed how quickly and how well I could finally see and drive the day after the first procedure. I highly recommend Dr. Sondheimer!!!!”
- Ewa T. – November 2018
What Is Cataract Surgery?
One of the most common ophthalmic procedures performed in the United States, cataract surgery is conducted to replace a clouded natural lens with an artificial lens. The advances that have occurred in cataract surgery make it one of the most successful surgeries in n medicine. The goal of cataract surgery is to replace the cloudy natural lens with a clear intraocular lens implant and restore excellent vision.
Am I a Good Candidate for Cataract Surgery?
People who have been diagnosed with cataracts or is living with the symptoms of cataracts, such as difficultly seeing to drive, difficulty seeing to read, or bothersome blurry vision may be a good candidate for cataract removal. The timing of cataract removal is elective. Most people schedule surgery when cloudy vision has begun to interfere with their ability to perform important tasks. Surgery may be a good idea when the cataract interferes with important visual activities such as driving and/or reading.
How Are Intraocular Lenses Implanted?
Cataract removal through tiny incisions is performed on one eye at a time and then a customized intraocular lens is implanted surgically. The procedure typically takes less than 15 minutes. Before the process of replacing the clouded lens begins, numbing eye drops are administered. A mild sedative is usually given to relax you.
A small incision is made in the front of the eye to gain access to the lens. An instrument then breaks the the natural lens down into small pieces and removes them from the eye. Sometimes, a laser is used to soften the lens and incise the cornea. These steps are referred to as phacoemulsification and laser cataract removal. By breaking up the lens into small pieces, lens removal is done via very small incisions that heal rapidly, almost always without the need for sutures. Tiny lens fragments are gently suctioned out of the lens capsule and replaced with an intraocular lens implant, that may also correct astigmatism and the need for reading glasses (presbyopia) in addition to treating nearsightedness or farsightedness.
The new lens, the IOL, is placed into the natural lens capsule of the eye in a folded position. When the intraocular lens is situated, it unfolds and and is left in an secure location in the lens capsule. Because the incisions are so small and self sealing, in most cases no stitches are required.
Types of Lens Implants
Patients can choose from a wide variety of IOLs. Each lens offers its own advantages and the most effective lens will differ for each patient. During a consultation before cataract surgery, Dr. Sondheimer will discuss your goals, based on occupation and lifestyle, and choose the most effective lens for you. Dr. Sondheimer offers the following intraocular lenses:
- Toric monofocal
- Toric multifocal
Monofocal intraocular lenses allow patients to focus on near or far objects. Unfortunately, patients cannot adjust for varying distance. Therefore, these patients still have to rely on glasses or contacts to see clearly at all distances. Patients can choose to see clearly at a distance, at close range for reading, or both. When choosing both it allows patients to have one eye see distance and one eye see at a close range, such as for reading. Dr. Sondheimer offers Alcon and AMO monofocal IOLs.
Toric Monofocal IOL
As with monofocal IOLs, toric monofocal IOLs correct eyes at a distance or close range. Unfortunately, in the past, astigmatic patients could not have their vision corrected during cataract surgery and would require additional surgeries. These additional procedures, such as refractive surgery or LASIK, would correct their vision. However, toric IOLs are now available and offer astigmatic patients the option to correct their astigmatism during cataract surgery and provide complete vision correction. Dr. Sondheimer offers Alcon toric intraocular lenses.
In the past, monofocal intraocular lenses were the only option patients had. Now, patients can have multifocal IOLs placed at the conclusion of cataract surgery to correct vision at near, intermediate and far distances. As a result, multifocal lenses can completely eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses for most patients. Multifocal intraocular lenses appeal to patients that prefer not to wear glasses or contact lenses. Dr. Sondheimer offers the following multifocal intraocular lenses:
Toric Multifocal IOL
Toric multifocal IOLs, like toric monofocal IOLs, offer a solution to astigmatism patients that undergo cataract surgery. Patients with astigmatism can now see at all distances and depend less on glasses or contact lenses after surgery. Dr. Sondheimer offers AMO Toric Multifocals and AMO Symfony Toric IOLs.
Is Cataract Removal and Intraocular Lens Implantation Safe?
Studies indicate the both cataract removal and the use of intraocular lenses are very safe, although some patients can have complications resulting in impaired or lost vision. In one study of over 200,000 patients, researchers concluded that 99.5 percent of patients recovered from their procedure with no severe postoperative complications. The risks of cataract removal have decreased thanks to advances in technology, surgical instruments, and surgical procedures. The materials from which intraocular lenses are made are biocompatible and intended to remain in the eye indefinitely. Some patients may experience glare or halos after cataract surgery.
If the eye has a preexisting cause of poor vision such as significant macular degeneration or severe glaucoma, the eye will not achieve excellent vision despite successful cataract surgery.
Are Intraocular Lenses Permanent?
Intraocular lenses are made from inert materials such as silicone or sophisticated plastics. These materials are well accepted by the body and generally do not degrade. The new intraocular lens that is inserted to replace the natural lens is intended to be permanent. No cleaning or replacement should be needed. In most patients, weeks to years after cataract surgery, the back lens capsule is easily opened in the office with a Yag Laser.
How Long Is Recovery After Cataract Surgery With Intraocular Lens Implantation?
Cataract surgery is performed your dilated eye. A mild sedative is also be administered to relax you. For these reasons, patients will need someone to drive them home from their cataract surgery. If helpful, our office can often arrange for transportation to and from surgery. A brief examination will take place 1 day, 1 week, and 5 weeks after cataract surgery. Many patients can drive themselves to these appointments.
For a day or two after cataract surgery, mild discomfort, redness and mild irritation are common. It may take a week or longer for best vision to return. These side effects generally improve as the eye heals. Patients are prescribed anti-inflammatory and antibiotic eye drops to help the eye heal. Eye drops must be used as prescribed and applied several times a day to support optimal recovery. For the first week after cataract removal, patients wear an eye shield while sleeping for the first 3 nights after surgery. Sunglasses are provided to shield the eyes from bright light.