If you have been suffering from cataracts for a little while, you may have decided it’s time to resolve them once and for all by having surgery. Cataract surgery is a simple, common procedure that involves removing the clouded lens of the eye and replacing it with an artificial alternative. Cataract surgery is very straightforward, but before you can proceed, your surgeon will want to talk to you about an important decision – what intraocular lenses you would like.
Intraocular lenses, also known as IOLs for short, are special, artificial lenses that are used to replace the clouded lens that is removed during cataract surgery. IOLs are extremely successful in helping to restore the vision of patients who have previously suffered from cataracts. However, there are many different types to choose from.
Intraocular lenses can be made from silicone, acrylic, or other compositions of plastics. They are also coated with a material that filters out harmful UV light, keeping the cornea protected from UV damage.
To help decide which IOLs are right for you, your eye doctor will measure the length of your eye and the curve of your cornea, which is the clear, domed lens covering the front part of the eye. This may be done manually but is increasingly performed using a scan called a topography. A topography is a 3d image of the surface of the eye that enables your eye doctor to determine measurements with pinpoint accuracy and check for any abnormalities. These measurements will help your eye doctor decide which size IOLs will fit you best.
IOLs also come in a range of different focusing powers, just like prescription glasses or contact lenses do. Depending on what your prescription is, you may be recommended to try one of the following:
Monofocal IOLs are the most common type provided for patients who have undergone cataract surgery. They have only one focusing power so that they improve your vision at a single distance. Most patients opt for their monofocal IOLs to be set to provide clear distance vision. If necessary, they will wear glasses or contact lenses for activities where they need stronger near vision, such as reading or using a digital device.
As their name suggests, these IOLs provide both distance and near focus simultaneously. This is done by setting different focusing powers on different parts of the lens. In most instances, the top half of the lens is set for distance vision, while the bottom half is set for near vision. This is because we most often look down when we are concentrating on something close by but lift our eyes slightly when looking at objects that are at a distance.
Toric IOLs are a little different because they are designed specifically to correct a refractive problem called astigmatism. Astigmatism occurs when the corneal surface is uneven, which causes light to be refracted onto multiple focus points on the back of the retina. Toric IOLs have special markers on the peripheral parts of the lens that make it easier for your cataract surgeon to set the lens in the right orientation. If this doesn’t happen, your vision won’t be clear.
We know that trying to choose your own intraocular lenses might seem overwhelming, but your eye doctor will help. They will be able to use your eye measurements, prescription details, and personal information to make a recommendation as to which are the right intraocular lenses for you.
It’s important to note that not all IOLs are covered by insurance. Premium IOLs, such as those that can reduce your need for prescription glasses or contact lenses, may only be partially covered, or not covered at all. Therefore, if you are relying on your insurance for the cost of your IOLs, it’s important to check what varieties you are covered for and to let your eye doctor know.
If you would like more information about cataract surgery or advice about how to choose the right intraocular lenses for you, please contact our knowledgeable eye care team at Plano Eye Associates in Plano, Texas at (972) 985-1412.