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Cataract surgery patients, as well as anyone with presbyopia seeking improvements to their overall vision, now have their choice of several different intraocular lenses to replace the aged, cloudy natural lens. These replacement lenses are now equipped with the capabilities to improve vision at all distances by utilizing the eye's natural accommodating power.
Three of the most popular IOLs include: ReSTOR® and Tecnis® which are all FDA-approved for the correction of near, far and intermediate vision. Each implant works in a slightly different way, so it is important to learn more about these lenses in order to find out which one is right for you. Your doctor will assist you in this decision during your consultation before surgery.
Physicians have been using flexible IOLs for years to replace the eye's cloudy lens during cataract surgery and help patients enjoy clear vision again. The ReSTOR® lens improves upon the ordinary IOL by using apodized diffractive technology to provide a full range of focusing distances from near to far. A series of 12 gradual "step heights" of 0.2-1.3 microns each (thinner than a human hair and smaller than a red blood cell) in the center of the IOL create seamless focusing ability, while the peripheral refractive region helps to enhance distance vision. Apodization also allows the lens to work with the pupil to distribute light evenly in the eye in different lighting conditions and activity levels. Alcon® reports that up to 80% of patients who use the ReSTOR® lens don't need glasses after surgery.
Manufactured by Pfizer Inc., the Tecnis® IOL was designed to provide cataract surgery patients with high-quality vision comparable to that of young people. Its main concern is improving safety with vision correction. It is meant to improve functional vision - the ability to see objects in varying light conditions - especially at night and twilight and in rain, snow and fog. This means improved night vision and reduction of spherical aberrations, an undesirable scattering of light that is a common side effect of cataract surgery.
The lens was approved as an IOL by the FDA in 2002. In April 2004 it was approved again as a driving aid.
In tests, drivers 65 and older wearing a silicone Tecnis lens were able to recognize objects faster, improving their braking response time by half a second and stopping about 60 feet shorter than drivers wearing traditional acrylic lenses.
Risks are the same as with any other IOL implantation in cataract surgery and include corneal edema, iritis, hyphema, macular edema, retinal detachment and lens dislocation.