Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over 40 and the principal cause of blindness worldwide. There are more cases of cataracts than of glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy combined. In the U.S. alone, 30 million people over the age of 40 will have cataracts by the year 2020.
At Wilkinson Eye Center, we have extensive experience with the microsurgery used to remove the cataract-clouded natural lens and replace it with an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens (IOL). There are many different IOLs to choose from. They all work well to restore your vision. Some IOLs are designed to help you be more spectacle independent. These are called premium lenses. Premium lenses cost more than standard lenses covered by most insurance plans. Ultimately the choice of a stand lens versus a premium lens is up to you. We will help you understand your choices.
We are pleased you have trusted us with the care of your eyes. To help you understand your options for the correction of your cataracts, we have prepared the following information for you.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens inside of your eye. Most of the time, it is caused by natural aging changes. It is not a film over the eye. Diet, vitamins, eye drops, or lasers will not correct cataracts. The only option for the correction of your cataract is surgery. In cataract surgery, your ophthalmologist will replace your natural lens with a new artificial lens. Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed medical procedure in the world.
It is important you know all your options for cataract surgery. We are proud to offer the most advanced technology to our patients to restore a full range of vision.
What are intraocular lenses?
When the natural lens of your eye develops the clouding that is a cataract, there is no way to reverse the damage. The only treatment is to remove the clouded lens and replace it with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL). These artificial lenses are available with some new technological advances that are nothing short of amazing. Once implanted in cataract surgery, they remain in place for the rest of your life. Unlike your natural lenses, IOLs cannot cloud or degrade in any way.
Who is an ideal candidate for an intraocular lens?
Every person having cataract surgery is an ideal candidate. That’s because when the clouded natural lens is removed it must be replaced at the same time. The only question with IOLs is the type you choose. During your consultation, Dr. Wilkinson will walk you through all of the choices, including today’s advanced technology lenses that provide clear vision at all distances. And they can even correct for both astigmatism and presbyopia.
The office staff is super nice, overboard accommodating and they are keeping the waiting room sanitized- best I’ve seen yet! Dr. Wilkinson is very thorough, really helped me get through my issues and actually listened to what I had to say (rare these days!!) I highly recommend anyone needing an ophthalmologist to make an appointment with this office!! – J.R.
Intraocular Lens Options
At Wilkinson Eye Center, we offer three options for your intraocular replacement lenses. Each has different characteristics in the range of vision improvement they provide, not only returning crystal clear vision to the patient but also addressing issues such as astigmatism and presbyopia. Here are the premium replacement lenses we offer.
1. Advanced Technology Lens – Symfony Toric Lens, Symfony Lens and Crystalens
Advanced Technology Lens allows you to see things at distance (watching TV, driving), intermediate (dashboard of your car, conversation with friends) and near (computer work, reading the newspaper) decreasing the need for glasses. You may still need glasses for some activities, such as prolonged reading or reading very small print (pill bottles).
2. Toric Lens
Astigmatism is due to an irregularly shaped cornea (front surface of the eye). Astigmatism causes distorted vision which can be corrected at the time of surgery with a toric artificial lens. You will have a sharp vision but will still need glasses for certain activities.
3. Standard Lens
Standard Lenses will focus on distance (watching TV or driving), or near (reading a newspaper or book). It cannot focus on more than one distance. You will need glasses for most activities.
The Multifocal lens is designed to reduce your dependence on eyeglasses. The multifocal lens is a specially engineered optic that provides both a distance focus and a near focus at all times. When doing a task your brain will learn to automatically select the correct focus. For example, you will need to figure out at what distance to hold a piece of reading material. Many patients report over time it improves.
What is the best choice of IOL for me?
The short answer is “It depends.” Dr. Wilkinson will walk you through your increasing options for today’s IOLs, but there are certain criteria to consider, as well. Here are a couple of things to consider.
Cost — If cost is your main concern, Medicare and most private insurance typically only cover monofocal IOLs. These lenses focus at a single distance — most patients choose distance — and the patient then needs glasses to correct for the other distance, usually up-close viewing. If you choose to upgrade to a “premium” IOL, such as a multifocal or accommodating IOL, you will have to pick up the cost of the difference.
Quality of vision — Most patients are thrilled at the prospect of never needing to wear glasses again. This is now a possibility with various premium IOL choices. Two of the most intriguing offerings don’t fit precisely into categories: the Technis Symfony lens and the Crystalens. Both offer the best vision across the full ranges of distances. Both also can correct for both presbyopia and astigmatism. Here’s more about each of them.
- Tecnis Symfony lenses are known as an extended range of focus IOLs. These lenses elongate the focus point. Multifocal IOLs cater to distinct focal points for varied distances. They are excellent for near and distant objects, but for the areas in between, they don’t adapt as well. The Symfony lens boasts no drop off in vision regardless of the distance. This gives the patient quality distance over a wide range of viewing conditions, just as their natural eye lenses used to do if they weren’t overly near- or farsighted. The Tecnis Symfony lens also mitigates the effects of presbyopia, the near-universal loss of the ability of the natural eye to focus at a close distance as we move past 40 years of age and upward. The Symfony lens allows for near vision without reading glasses. It also corrects for astigmatism with the Tecnis Symfony Toric IOL.
- The Crystalens is called an accommodating intraocular lens implant. Crystalens is modeled after the human eye. Like a natural lens, it uses the eye muscle to flex and accommodate in order to focus on objects in the environment at all distances. The Crystalens dynamically adjusts to your visual range. It does this thanks to hinges on each side that are designed to allow the optic or the part of the lens you can see through, to move back and forth as you constantly change focus on images around you. Crystalens is the only FDA-approved accommodating IOL, and it seems to have overcome the problems of glare, halos, and night vision that can be a nuisance with multifocal IOLs. Like the Symfony, Crystalens also has corrected for presbyopia. Trulign Toric is a toric modification of the Crystalens IOL to correct for astigmatism.
Are intraocular lenses permanent?
Yes, once your natural lens is removed and replaced with the IOL of your choice, it will stay in place for the remainder of your life. IOLs don’t cloud or degrade over time.
Will I need to use eyedrops with intraocular lenses?
No. These implanted lenses do not require long-term use of eyedrops.
Are intraocular lenses safe?
After your cataract-clouded natural lens is removed you must have an intraocular lens placed. Otherwise, your eye will not be able to focus. These are incredibly successful, safe procedures that are performed millions of times around the world every year. Success rates for these procedures are over 98 percent.
Intraocular lenses are designed for permanent placement. They will not degrade or cloud in any way. They will provide excellent, clear vision for the rest of your life.
I called for an emergency appointment because I was leaving out of town the next day and knew something was wrong with my eye. The office squeezed me in at the last minute and I was grateful for that. I highly recommend this practice!- K.M.
Are there specific risks and complications with IOLs?
There is some risk involved with overall cataract surgery, but this isn’t due to the IOLs. Still, these risks are small and are typically easily correctable. Some patients worry about the risk of IOL dislocation, but a Mayo Clinic study of over 14,000 cataract surgeries found this risk to be only 0.1 percent.
The main risk with cataract surgery, in general, is the development of an after-cataract anywhere from weeks to years after your surgery. This happens when the tissue that is holding the new IOL gets cloudy and your eyesight blurs. If this occurs, it is easily fixed with a painless laser procedure that takes just a few minutes.
The real risk is not having your cataract removed, as the long-term end result of a cataract is blindness in the affected eye.
How Much Does Cataract Surgery Cost?
Medicare and most private insurance companies consider cataract surgery a medically necessary procedure. The insurance coverage of cataract surgery costs will vary depending on your individual plan. The out-of-pocket cost for surgery will also vary depending on the type of lens you select for your eyes. Advanced technology lenses, including the Toric lens, are considered a premium service and are not covered by Medicare and most insurance plans.
Schedule Your Cataract Consultation Today!
Interested in learning more about your Intraocular Lens Options? Give us a call at (248) 334-4931 to schedule your consultation today! Wilkinson Eye Center has locations in Pontiac and Clarkston, and serves all nearby areas in Michigan.