There are many factors that can cause a patient to develop cataracts, a condition where the lens, found behind the iris and the pupil, becomes clouded: aging, eye trauma, excessive sun exposure, disease inside the eye, family history, smoking, diabetes, and poor nutrition. No matter the underlying cause, it is important to have the clouded natural lenses removed and replaced with new implanted artificial lenses.
Cataracts most commonly develop in people over the age of sixty. People often don’t realize they have cataracts as their vision deteriorates very slowly and, over time, they don’t notice the changes. But at a certain point, the clouding begins to really impact the vision. This is the time to have your cataracts removed.
Lens choices for cataract replacement
Surgery is the only way to remove a cataract. The clouded lens will be replaced with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens implant (IOL).
Monofocal lens implants – The original cataract replacement implants, these lenses only offer vision at one distance — far, intermediate, or near — so the wearer will need glasses either for up close or distance vision. The focal distance can be set to the distance chosen by the patient. It may be set for both eyes to either see at a distance, such as for driving or maybe watching TV; or for near vision, such as reading and using a computer. Or, one eye can receive an IOL that provides near vision and the other eye an IOL that provides distance vision. Most people can adjust to this seemingly disjointed arrangement, as the brain adjusts and filters the incoming stimuli according to the vision needed.
Multifocal lens implants – These newer lenses allow the patient to see well at more than one distance, without glasses. They are considered to be “premium” lenses because of the extra benefits that are unavailable in monovision IOLs.
Accommodating lens implants – Accommodating implants shift with the action of the eye muscles to increase focusing ability. These lenses offer excellent vision at all distances.
Toric lens implants – These lenses not only replace cataract-clouded lenses, but also correct astigmatism. There are various options depending on the amount of astigmatism to be corrected. Plus, in 2013 the first accommodating toric IOL was approved by the FDA.