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New lenses improve eye problems


September 2015

Intraocular lens implants ó inserted during a surgical procedure to remove cataracts and improve vision ó have been available to visually impaired patients for more than 60 years. But new technology presents more options to people struggling with their eyesight.

"The newer intraocular lenses can change the power of the eye and improve vision by getting rid of the cloudiness and getting rid of dependence on glasses," says Dr. Edward Braza, an ophthalmologist at Aurora Vision Center in Milwaukee.

Braza says more of his patients are requesting premium intraocular lens, which, unlike standard lenses, have greater flexibility in correcting specific vision deficiencies, near-sightedness and far-sighteness.

The Toric premium lens is designed for patients with significant astigmatisms (the inability of the eye to focus sharply on certain objects). The Toric lens is monocular, correcting the astigmatism with a lens implant that has a specific power to rectify one vision deficiency, distance or reading vision.

The multifocal lens can correct both distance and reading in the same implant. This works for people who have lesser astigmatisms but not for patients with major astigmatisms.

Multifocal lenses have two different visual zones within the lens for distance and reading. An accommodating lens is a multifocal lens that actually changes its shape for seeing far and up close as you try to focus, just like your original natural lens would do. That technology, however, is still evolving.

"It tends to work early, but over time, may not work as well," Braza says.

A lens that offers a combination of the Toric and multifocal lenses, treating patients with bigger astigmatisms that can also correct both distance and reading issues, has been approved in Europe and is pending approval in the United States.

Braza says premium implants are not covered by insurance (standard lens implants are covered), and out-of-pocket cost ($1,500 for a Toric lens, $2,000 for a multifocal lens) is still a factor. But interest in the new procedures is growing.

"Numbers are going up, there are more people finding out about it," Braza says.

"Cataract surgery is being done on younger people, who are going in for the procedure maybe a little earlier because itís such a safe surgery. Thereís no stitching, no patches. In the old days, youíd wait until you were almost blind because there was so much risk."

Braza says the surgery lasts 10 minutes, and patients go home and resume normal activities the same day.

"Itís just amazing how all of this has evolved," he adds.


This story ran in the September 2015 issue of: