What is an Intraocular (IOL) Lens?
An intraocular lens, or IOL, is a lens that is surgically implanted to replace the natural lens of the eye during cataract surgery. There are several different IOL technologies available, which are divided into three major categories: monofocal, toric, and presbyopic-correcting (includes subcategories). The type of lens implanted will dictate the range of vision a patient has after surgery, and how much independence they will have from glasses.
What type of Intraocular Lens will work for me?
Monofocal IOL: the monofocal lens is a lens that provides a fixed focus for a single range of vision. The range may be fixed for near (reading), intermediate (computer), OR distance (driving), but only one range can be chosen. This corrected range will be clear assuming little or no astigmatism exists. The remaining ranges of vision may be corrected after cataract surgery using glasses or contacts. A monofocal lens has a low instance of glare and/or halos at night.
Toric IOL: the toric IOL is an astigmatic version of a monofocal IOL. Unlike a standard monofocal lens, a toric lens provides astigmatism correction for those who need it. The toric IOL has fixed focus like the standard monofocal lens, and will correct either near, intermediate, OR distance vision.
Presbyopic-correcting IOL: these IOL technologies provide patients with more than one area of focus. Currently approved technologies are the multifocal IOL, Crystalens, and the extended range of focus IOL, Tecnis® Symfony IOL. With these IOL’s, most patients will achieve quality vision in at least 2 of the 3 commonly needed areas of focus (near, intermediate and far) without the need of glasses. The newest approved IOL, Symfony, delivers a continuous, range of high-quality vision with less incidence of glare/halos compared to the multifocal IOL’s.
Can I get a different kind of Intraocular lens for each eye?
The power of the lens implanted may vary between each eye, but the type of the lens is most often the same from one eye to the other. The benefit of presbyopic correcting lenses works best when used bilaterally (in both eyes).
How long does the IOL procedure take?
At the time of cataract surgery you should expect to be at Precision Vision Surgery Center for about 2 hours – from the point of arrival to the time you are discharged. Most of the time is spent on preparation which includes a medical assessment, health history, vital signs, dilating the operative eye, and administering the oral anesthetic. The surgery itself only takes 12-15 minutes.
How can I prepare for treatment?
Prior to cataract surgery, the patient will have an extensive consultation with their surgeon, then the surgery coordinator. The surgery coordinator will provide verbal and written instructions detailing preparation; some of these instructions include: importance of beginning and continuing eye drops, discontinuing certain medications prior to treatment, and proper grooming the day of the surgery.
Is there any pain associated with treatment?
Cataract surgery in general has a very low incidence of discomfort and/or pain. With laser cataract surgery the eye is numbed topically (with eye drops). Often patients will only report instances of a “pressure-like” feeling – this feeling is caused by the device used to keep the eye open, as well as the irrigating solution used to pressurize the eye.
Are there any side effects associated with the IOL procedure?
As with any surgery, cataract surgery poses some side effects/risks including bleeding, infection, and loss of vision. More commonly patients may experience some fluctuation in vision, dry eyes, redness, few floaters, mild irritation, and tearing throughout the post-operative period. To reduce such risks your surgeon may have patients stop certain medications, begin a series of drops before surgery, and continue drops for a number of days after surgery.
How long will it be before I can see with my Intraocular Lens’?
The day of surgery it is expected that vision will be unclear (although more bright). After the first 24-48 hours patients will usually notice the most significant increase in vision. The clarity of the vision can be limited by dilation, post-operative inflammation, use of post-operative eye drops, and residual prescription. Within 4 weeks of surgery the vision should stabilize, although you may need corrective glasses or contacts for the best quality vision.
How long do the implants last?
Because of the material lens implants are made of, they aren’t subject to deterioration, therefore they should last a lifetime.
What can I expect during recovery?
It is not uncommon for patients to experience some fluctuation in vision, dry eyes, redness, few floaters, mild irritation, and tearing throughout the post-operative period. Within the first 24 hours after surgery patients will have their first post-op appointment, then 1 week later, and a final post-op check 1 month after cataract surgery.