A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens of the eye. The lens is about the size and shape of an M&M candy and sits just behind the iris, the colored part of the eye.
The lens is clear at birth, but with age it becomes clouded and the vision gets blurry (cataract). There are other reasons that the lens clouds such as injury, medications and metabolic diseases such as diabetes.
The first true cataract surgery was done in Paris in 1748 but due to obvious obstacles such as no anesthesia, antibiotics or proper illumination, cataract surgery wasn't widely done until the 1960's.
During cataract surgery, the clouded natural lens (cataract) is broken up, removed and replaced with a very soft plastic, foldable intraocular lens or IOL. Surgeons at The Eye Clinic in Lake Charles were among the first in Southwest Louisiana to perform this surgery.
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Experimentation with intraocular lenses began in 1949 but were not widely available until the late 60s and early 70s. Of course, many advances have been made in this technology over the years. Today, almost all IOL's have UV filters incorporated into the lens, this protects your retina from ultraviolet light. Interestingly, some of our providers at The Eye Clinic worked on the early FDA (Food and Drug Administration) investigations to develop UV protection in IOL's.
The IOL's used over the last 30 years are called standard monofocal IOL's because their focus is set to provide distance or near vision, but not both. Patients who receive a standard monofocal IOL usually continue to wear glasses to achieve the clearest focus for distance and near objects because of astigmatism (the eye is not round but oval like a football) or presbyopia (age-related decrease in near vision).
Depending on the results of your examination, you may choose a specialty IOL. There is nothing wrong with the monofocal IOL. In fact, many of our patients select this option because they are either not good candidates for the other lenses, or they don't want to pay the additional costs associated with these newer technologies. Unfortunately, Medicare and private insurances do not cover the additional cost of these specialty lenses.
With time, almost everyone is affected by presbyopia. Presbyopia is a part of the normal aging process and happens to all of us by the age of 40 to 45. That is why most people eventually need reading glasses or bifocals. Presbyopia is caused by a loss of flexibility of the natural lens and the weakening of the lens's focusing muscle. Everyone who undergoes cataract surgery with a standard (monofocal IOL) will need reading glasses to see up close. But over the past few years, there have been several IOLs introduced that correct presbyopia after cataract surgery.
Patients who choose one of these presbyopia correcting or multifocal IOLs can usually see far away and up close without glasses. The surgeons at The Eye Clinic Lake Charles were among the first surgeons in Southwest Louisiana to use these new multifocal lenses. Some of The Eye Clinic surgeons actually worked with the manufacturers and the FDA in the development of the early version of these lenses.
About half of the population is born with eyes that are oval shaped like a football, instead of round like a basketball. As light enters the eye of someone with astigmatism, the light reflects off the uneven surface and causes blurry vision. To see clearly at a distance, they need to wear glasses or contact lenses. Recently, a new style of IOL called a Toric IOL was introduced. The Toric IOL can correct, or at least partially correct, astigmatism so patients with astigmatism won't be so dependent on glasses after cataract surgery.
If not wearing glasses after cataract surgery is important to you, than ask the surgery coordinators or the surgeon's technicians about specialty IOLs.
At The Eye Clinic, we want our patients to be able to enjoy the available IOL technology. We look forward to caring for you and your eyes, and to helping you learn more about your options.