If you find your vision gradually beginning to cloud as you age, you certainly aren’t alone. The majority of Americans will experience complications from cataracts to some degree later in life. While they can’t be prevented, cataracts can be detected early on with visual examination. Although symptoms may start out as mildly blurred vision, they can potentially cause permanent blindness, which is why detection and treatment is essential.
For those patients who do find their symptoms worsening and increasingly interfering with their vision, surgery is the single most effective treatment option. During cataract surgery, the affected lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens. Not only is this procedure more effective than ever, but it can also be performed in an outpatient setting, and typically has a comfortable, fast recovery period. During the surgery, the affected lens is removed and replaced with an artificial one. The choices for this new lens vary and the one selected will depend on a number of factors.
Lens replacements are broken into three basic categories: monofocal, toric, and multi-focal. Multi-focal lens best meet the needs of most patients, but toric and monofocal lenses are still viable options in many cases. Here's what patients should know about each of these lens varities:
Monofocal – This type of lens only allows the user to focus on one focal point at a time. As a result, the surgeon must calibrate the intraocular lens (IOL) to provide better focus for either near or distant objects, depending on the patient’s needs. In the majority of cases, patients with monofocal lenses choose to have good distance vision, and use reading glasses for closer objects.
Toric- Toric lens options are ideal for people who suffer from both cataracts and astigmatism. Much like the monofocal option, this lens will not correct both near and distance vision and will still require the use of corrective eyewear such as reading glasses.
Multi-focal – The latest in lens technology, multi-focal options allow patients to see clearly at all distances in a range of lighting conditions. With this option, near, immediate, and distance vision are all regulated, offering complete freedom from glasses. Among the multi-focal lens options are brands such as Crystalens, ReStor, and TECNIS.