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By age 60, most people start to show symptoms of cataracts, though they may not notice these symptoms for years. Initially, most cataracts are monitored and surgery is not necessary. If cataracts become significant enough that they limit a patient’s day to day life, an ophthalmologist might recommend cataract surgery. During cataract surgery, a surgeon removes the affected lens and implants an intraocular lens (IOL).
An intraocular lens is an artificial lens used to replace a clouded lens that has been removed during cataract surgery. Like prescription glasses or contacts, intraocular lenses come in a variety of focus powers. Before the procedure, your eye will be measured. The length and curve of your eye will be used to set the focusing power of your replacement lens.
Intraocular lenses can be made of a variety of plastic materials, most commonly silicone and acrylic. Intraocular lenses often protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays.
There are four basic types of intraocular lenses you can have implanted to replace a cloudy natural lens. The type of lens you implant will determine what kind of vision you have after the procedure. If both of your eyes require surgery, you may choose to get the same kind of lens implanted in each eye or two separate lenses that will give you a wider range of vision.
The types of intraocular lenses include:
The type of IOL you have implanted will determine whether you will need to wear glasses after surgery. If they do not already wear corrective lenses, most people will begin to experience loss of near-sighted vision in their 40s. This is known as presbyopia. If you experience presbyopia but retain far-sighted vision, a monofocal intraocular lens may satisfy your vision requirements. If you experience impairment in both near- and far-sighted vision, you may choose to have multifocal intraocular lenses implanted. Both will restore near- and far-sighted vision to some degree but may have limitations. You may still choose to use reading glasses, depending on the type of vision required for your daily activities.
Whatever your vision needs, there is an intraocular lens for you. Your lifestyle will determine which lens will provide you with your best outcome. You can discuss your questions and concerns with your ophthalmologist and come to an informed decision about which lens is right for you.
Dr. Peterson is an ophthalmologist with the Marietta Eye Clinic who specializes in cataracts and dry eye. She serves the Kennestone, East Cobb, and Towne Lake offices. She received an undergraduate degree in biology from Emory University and a medical degree from the Emory University School of Medicine. She is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. Read her full bio here.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. It describes itself as a “global community of 32,000 medical doctors who protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public.” Its website is a great resource to learn more about how to care for your eyes.
The American Optometric Association (AOA) describes itself as the leading authority on quality care and an advocate for our nation’s health, representing more than 44,000 doctors of optometry (O.D.), optometric professionals, and optometry students.
IOL Implants: Lens Replacement After Cataracts
Bye, Cataracts. Hello, Intraocular Lenses: How to Decide What Type of IOL is Best for You
Cataract Data and Statistics
IOLs: These Aren’t Your Grandma’s Lenses … or Maybe They Are?
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