The intraocular lens (IOL) is a synthetic replacement for your natural lens which has become a cataract. The cataract (your old lens) is removed and replaced with an IOL. There are various types of intraocular lens implants that can be used for the replacement. This articles serves as an outline and should be used only for a reference when you are talking to your eye physician.
This is part of a series of articles we are publishing to inform and educate our patients about the advantages of laser cataract surgery.
There are several steps of cataract surgery. These are the steps of laser cataract surgery where the laser is very useful.
- Corneal Incision
- Capsulorhexis (capsulotomy)
- Removal of the Cataract
- Implantation of the Intraocular Lens
- Treat Astigmatism
In previous articles about the corneal incision, every attempt is to keep the size of the incision as small as possible. Smaller corneal incisions are safer, heal faster and cause less astigmatism (no sutures are needed as these incisions are self sealing). Over time, with the advent of phacoemulsfication, foldable lenses have become the standard type of lens. Foldable lenses are made of soft acrylic or silicone material.
Foldable IOLs, or foldable lenses, are rolled up to fit through a smaller opening. They are injected into the eye after the cataract has been removed. Once injected they unfold to their natural, and larger, conformation. By folding the IOLs, the lens is fit through a much smaller corneal incision.
Types of IOLs
There are various types of intraocular lenses that can be used to replace your own lens.
Traditionally, monofocal lenses allow you to see at a particular given distance: far, intermediate or near. Monofocal lenses only let you see at one of these distances. In most cases, your doctor will choose a lens where you are slightly near sighted, but often can drive without glasses. Reading glasses will be needed.
Multi-focal lenses are manufactured to allow you to see at distance, intermediate and near. Insurance often does not pay for multi-focal lenses and cash-out-of-pocket is common. Not all patients are good candidates for multi-focal lenses. Ask your doctor if you might be a candidate.