Before the emergence of intraocular lenses (IOLs), patients needed to wear thick glasses or special contact lenses in order to see following cataract surgery. Today, several types of IOLs are available for natural lens replacement, helping millions of people enjoy crisp, clear vision after cataract surgery. IOLs have been approved by the FDA since the early 1980s, and modern advances in IOL technology have significantly improved the clarity of vision they can provide.
To learn more about your premium lens options and candidacy, contact Kirk Eye Center today by calling 970-669-1107 or completing the form on this page to schedule an appointment. Our experienced ophthalmologist, Dr. John Kirk, welcomes patients from the Loveland, Windsor and Fort Collins areas of Northern Colorado.
What Are Premium IOLs?
Intraocular lenses (IOLs) are artificial lenses implanted in your eye to replace your eye’s natural lens. Although IOLs were initially used primarily to correct vision as part of cataract surgery, recent technological advances enable modern IOLs to address a wider range of vision issues.
Traditional IOLs were monofocal, and only helped you achieve clear vision at one distance. This meant that you could see distant objects clearly, but you’d still need glasses to read and perform other near-vision tasks.
Premium IOLs are much more advanced. Multifocal lenses allow you to see clearly at multiple distances without the need for glasses following your procedure.
Premium IOLs provide several advantages compared to traditional IOLs, including:
- The ability to read easily and quickly
- Better vision in a variety of lighting conditions
- Better range of vision
How Do IOLs Work?
An IOL works like your eye’s natural lens. It focuses light that enters your eye through the cornea and pupil onto the retina. Most IOLs are about one-third of the size of a dime and made of a very flexible material. Similar to prescription eyeglasses, an IOL has the specific prescription that will provide you with the clearest vision possible.
Most commonly, lens implants are used in cataract surgery, dramatically improving certain refractive disorders in the process, such as astigmatism, presbyopia and severe hyperopia.
Types of IOLs
Kirk Eye Center offers a variety of IOL options, all designed to effectively meet your unique visual needs.
A monofocal (standard) IOL provides excellent vision, but at only one distance. The focal point can be set to one of the following:
- Near – for activities such as reading or sewing
- Distance – for activities like driving or watching TV
For decades, monofocal lens implants were the only option for insertion during cataract surgery. Patients would commonly choose monofocal implants that focused well on distant objects and rely on reading glasses to assist with close-up tasks.
Some patients opt for a "monovision" strategy, which involves one eye being set for near vision and the other set for distance vision. Using this technique, the brain synthesizes the information received from both eyes to provide vision at intermediate distances. The monovision technique is not exclusive to monofocal lenses; any combination of premium IOLs can be used for cataract surgery.
Multifocal (premium) intraocular lenses contain additional magnification in different parts of the lens to expand the range of vision to see objects clearly at all distances without the need for eyeglasses or contacts.
Presbyopia is a common condition that causes near vision to fade with age. It is the most prevalent eye condition in America and affects most people over the age of 40 and everyone by their early 50s. Multifocal lenses are specially designed to combat the effects of presbyopia, reducing the need for corrective lenses.
Dr. Kirk offers the following premium IOL options:
- ReSTOR: These multifocal lens implants use a patented design that distributes light optimally to near, intermediate and distance focal points, based on the available amount of ambient light. This helps opimive vision quality in a variety of lighting conditions.
- Tecnis: The fully diffractive surface of this lens provides improved image quality under multiple lighting conditions and varying pupil sizes.
Individual success with multifocal IOLs can depend on the size of the pupil and other health factors. Patients with astigmatism can ask Dr. Kirk about viable alternatives to these lenses, such as toric IOLs.
Toric IOLs are an ideal option if you need to correct astigmatism as part of your cataract surgery. Astigmatism is a condition that occurs when the cornea and/or the lens of your eye have an oval shape instead of a circular shape. This causes light to pass through your cornea and lens at different locations, creating different focal points which lead to blurry vision at all distances.
Until recently, patients who underwent cataract surgery and had astigmatism had no IOL options that could address their astigmatism. Fortunately, modern advancements have led to the toric IOL, a monofocal intraocular lens that corrects astigmatism in addition to farsightedness or nearsightedness.
The toric IOL comprises a lens that is convex on both sides. This double convex design allows the toric lens to correct astigmatism in addition to eliminating the cloudy vision caused by cataracts.
Benefits of toric IOLs include:
- 94% of patients achieve 20/40 distance vision or better without corrective lenses
- Improved night vision
- Reduction in higher order aberrations
Before the development of toric IOLs, cataract surgeons addressed astigmatism by making small incisions at opposite ends of the cornea, near the junction between the cornea and the surrounding white sclera. When these incisions, known as limbal relaxing incisions, heal, the shape of the cornea becomes more spherical, reducing or eliminating astigmatism. In certain cases, limbal relaxing incisions are still necessary, even when toric IOLs are used.
Which IOL Option Is Best for Me?
With the many benefits of new lens technologies come more choices and more questions. Unfortunately, there is no way to try your lenses before they are permanently affixed during your cataract surgery. Your eyesight is tremendously important, so it is critical to work closely with Dr. Kirk when deciding which IOL to choose.
When weighing your IOL options, it’s important to consider personal factors, such as:
- What are the main activities that comprise your typical day?
- Which activities would you prefer to do without glasses, if possible?
- At what distances would you like to see the most clearly without glasses, near, intermediate or far?
- Can you afford to pay extra for a premium lens that provides a more comprehensive range of focus than a standard lens covered by your insurance?
Multifocal IOLs were developed to allow people to see clearly at several distances without the need for glasses after cataract surgery. While multifocal lenses provide benefits beyond those of standard lenses, they are not covered by insurance and require an out-of-pocket expense. For many patients who are eager to eliminate the need for glasses, the additional cost is well worth the investment.
In addition to personal and financial considerations, there are certain ocular health factors that must be evaluated for multifocal IOL candidacy, including:
- Eye disease is an important consideration when determining your candidacy for premium IOLs. A multifocal lens is not recommended if you suffer from:
- Astigmatism is an abnormal curvature of the cornea. There are no FDA approved multifocal lenses that also correct this condition.
- Potential side effects should also be considered. While multifocal IOLs can allow you to read without glasses, some patients experience mild side effects such as:
- Decreased contrast sensitivity
Some patients hardly notice any visual effects at all from their lens implant while others notice the effects but are not bothered by them. If the prospect of adapting to these minor symptoms is worrisome, you may want to discuss other options with Dr. Kirk.
In preparation for your cataract surgery, Dr. Kirk will perform a series of eye measurements to calculate the power of your new lens. Together, you and Dr. Kirk will discuss your vision needs, lifestyle and budget to determine the best solution for you.
Dr. Kirk is committed to delivering customized solutions to every patient, and never takes a cookie-cutter approach to your ocular health. He is passionate about providing his patients with innovative solutions that best meet their lifestyle and budgetary needs.
If you are ready to take the first step toward clearer vision, please contact Kirk Eye Center today by calling 970-669-1107 or completing the form on this page to schedule your IOL consultation with Dr. Kirk. We proudly serve the Loveland, Fort Collins and Windsor areas of Northern Colorado.