Cataracts develop for a variety of reasons: age, eye trauma, sun damage, eye disease, family history, smoking, among others. Cataracts are known as the clouding of the lens, which is located behind the iris and the pupil. The clouding is caused by a buildup of protein over time. This is a gradual process; many people don’t even notice the changes, attributing them to “just getting older.” But when cataracts begin to impact your ability to drive and read, it’s time to correct the problem with surgery.
Surgery is the only way to remove a cataract. The clouded lens is removed and replace with an artificial lens. This replacement lens is call an intraocular lens implant and there are different options to choose from, each with different characteristics depending on your lifestyle, what you predominantly use your eyes for (i.e. distance vs. closeup work), those kinds of things.
Choices for cataract lens implants
- Monofocal lens implants – Monofocal implants were the original replacement lenses when cataract surgery was in its infancy. 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 lens that provides near vision and the other eye a lens 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.
- 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.
- 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 implant lenses.
- 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 implant was approved by the FDA.