Described as a natural clouding of the eye lens, cataracts are common affecting about 20 million people worldwide.
Cataracts are actually considered an inevitable part of aging and are widespread among people ages 55 years and older. In fact, half of all Americans have them, or have had cataract surgery, by age 80. In other words, if you live long enough, you will likely develop cataracts. If left untreated cataracts can lead to blindness.
The good news, however, is that treatment for cataracts are highly successful; more than 97% of the 3 million+ cataracts performed each year in the US are considered successful. In addition, about 95% of patients are able to restore their full pre-cataract distance vision after undergoing the standard intraocular lens (IOL) procedure.
Cataract Surgery Procedure:
The eye surgery procedure is very common throughout most of the world. The surgeon makes a tiny incision on the side of the cornea, removes the eye's clouded natural lens, using a procedure known as phacoemulsification, and the replaces it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). Phacoemulsification is the most advanced and most common technique used today. Because of the incision is less than 1/8 of an inch, stitches are not typically required and the eye heals quickly on its own.
Intraocular Lenses (IOL)
An IOL is the artificial lens surgeon's implant to replace the eye's crystalline lens that must be removed once it has become cloudy. The main job of the IOL is to focus light onto the back of the eye (or Retina) just as a natural, healthy eye lens would. The following are the most common types of IOLs available today:
Monofocal IOLs provide a set focal point, usually for the distance vision. This allows cataract surgery patients to see clearly a certain range. About 95% of people who receive a standard IOL have their vision restored to the pre-cataract state. However, most patients still require glasses for reading of distance vision. Monovision is a technique the surgeon may choose to perform that involves inserting an IOL in one eye for near vision and an IOL in the other eye for distance vision. This technique requires adaptation, since each will be oriented towards different needs
Multifocal IOLs are a newer type of lens that use advanced technology to treat multiple focal points and reduces or eliminates the need for eyeglasses or contact lenses after cataract surgery. Part of the rapid evolution in IOL innovations, these newer lenses are made from cutting-edge materials with unique features. This is made possible through highly specialized optics that divides light and focuses it on more than one point to provide a range from near to far sight. The most popular advanced technology lenses are the Technis Multifocal and the Acrysof IQ Restor IOL. Astigmatism Correcting Lenses (IOLs) are able to correct astigmatism, in addition to the cataract, at the time of surgery. These lenses will minimize the need for distance glasses after surgery. One such IOL is the Alcon Acrystof IQ TORIC IOL.