- Huge medical advances have been made in the medical treatment of cataracts. This has made cataract surgery one of the safest, most effective surgical procedures. It is also one of the most successful surgical procedure1. For patients, cataract surgery is generally a simple, outpatient procedure with little discomfort only requiring a few hours away from home. The operation is through a tiny 13mm incision through which the surgeon inserts an instrument the size of a pen tip. The instrument breaks the cloudy lens into pieces and removes them from the eye. Once the cataract is removed, a replacement lens is inserted through the same tiny incision.
- The evolution of cataract surgery took a giant leap forward in 1949, when Dr. Harold Ridley developed and implanted the first intraocular lens. The intraocular lens is an artificial lens that is implanted in the eye during cataract surgery to replace the eyes clouded crystalline lens. IOL advancements over the years have made it possible for cataract patients to realize clearer, more youthful vision than they could have ever thought possible.
- Until recently, life without reading glasses or bifocals wasnt an option after cataract surgery. Traditionally, the replacement lens implant used for cataract surgery is a monofocal IOL. A monofocal intraocular lens has only one focal point. These lenses only correct vision at one portion of the patients visual range (typically vision at a distance). Though this type of lens restores good functional distance vision, patients still need to continue wearing reading glasses.
- A new option is the multifocal intraocular lens. FDA approved presbyopia correcting intraocular lens a few years back. Multifocal lens can improve vision in a full range of distances: near, far and everywhere inbetween. Most patients after multifocal lens implantation can read a book, work on the computer, drive a car and other daily activities with increased freedom from glasses.
- Does this mean freedom from glasses after cataract surgery? For many people, yes. In fact, in clinical trials, after having the multifocal IOL implanted in both eyes, four out of five patients reported never wearing glasses. However, there can be a tradeoff - while the patient may gain clear vision throughout his visual range, he can also experience halos or glare around light at night. Most patients find these tradeoffs tolerable, but each patient should still discuss the options with their doctor because every patient is different. In extremely rare cases, as is true with any intraocular lens and cataract surgery, the patient may experience permanent vision loss due to infections or other surgical complications.
- Thus in conclusion after successful cataract surgery, it may be possible to regain clearer, brighter and sharper vision than the patient had in years!