Cataract surgery involving cataract lenses is a safe and effective way to restore distance vision for people with cataracts. However, until recently, even after cataract surgery, patients were required to wear corrective lenses for both distance and near vision. With the advent of accommodative intraocular lens (IOLs) technology, all that is changing.
Here’s how cataract surgery works: the natural lens of the eye is removed, and an artificial lens is implanted. This is done because the natural lens has developed an opacification and needs to be replaced with a clear lens. Conventional lenses are limited, because they are single vision lenses, with only one power. Accommodating IOLs are different, in that they are lens implants that are designed to help patients see at varying distances using different points of focus. The goal is to provide functional vision at different distances to minimize the use of glasses. Some patients still prefer to wear glasses for long periods of reading, but the vast majority of accommodative IOL patients experience freedom from glasses for tasks such as driving, watching TV, using their cell phone and computer, looking at photos, reading magazines, price tags, product labels, receipts, and menus.
Accommodative IOLs work so well because they mimic the movement of the natural eye. In young people, the lens is very flexible, and can easily move within the eye as the visual focus shifts from items that are close by to things in the distance. As we age, though, the natural lens loses its flexibility. Accommodative IOLs are designed to be flexible and move as the natural lens moves, providing a marked improvement in vision. Note: patients should not expect the same vision they had at age twenty, but the vision will be greatly improved. Additional fine tuning through the use of laser visual correction can provide even better results.
This is an exciting time in the field of ophthalmic surgery. New research is continually improving the techniques and functionality of visual corrective procedures. If your eyes aren’t what they used to be, consider having a conversation with your doctor about which procedures may benefit you.