I Can See You Here And There
The eye is a unique structure capable of focusing on objects both up close and at a distance. To do so, a crystalline lens located inside can adjust to bend incoming light into the back of the eye. Over time, the proteins in this lens break down, leading to unfocused and blurry vision. Lifestyle lenses are a means to restore lost sight.
We’re having a breakdown here
Degradation of the eye’s natural lens is the result of a condition known as cataracts. At this point, there’s no method available to reverse this breakdown. Instead, ophthalmologists perform cataract surgery to remove the cloudy lens and enable light to pass through unimpeded. Since the eye still needs to be able to focus light, an intraocular lens (IOL) is typically used.
What’s an IOL?
IOLs are made from plastic material and were introduced in the late 1940s to restore vision. Today, these foldable lenses are inserted in the eye during cataract removal, effectively replacing the damaged lens. Each IOL has a specific focusing power to work with the dimensions of a particular patient’s eye. Unlike the natural lens, IOLs cannot bend or flex to accommodate light from both up close and far away.
Monofocal IOLs set the standard
During a standard cataract procedure, the surgeon implants a monofocal lens into the patient’s eye. As the name implies, this lens can only focus light from one spectrum, either near or far. The patient works with the physician to determine the best choice to make. Monofocal lenses are not able to correct other refractive issues that glasses or contact lenses can.
Types of lifestyle lenses
Lifestyle lenses, also known as premium lenses, are designed to address these additional refractive issues. Two of the most widely used lenses are referred to as Toric and multifocal implants.
Toric IOLs are made to correct blurry vision caused by astigmatism, or an abnormal curvature of the cornea. Astigmatic individuals receiving monofocal lens implants will almost definitely still need glasses after cataract surgery to see clearly. Toric lenses are constructed with a special shape that negates the adverse effects of the cornea’s shape with the goal of restoring clear distance vision. Patients opting for Toric lenses may not need glasses to see clearly in the distance after surgery. There will still be a need for glasses with tasks up close.
Multifocal lenses are built with rings to focus light at multiple ranges. Each multifocal IOL should allow patients to view images clearly whether close up or far away. Over time, the brain learns which ring to look through in order to see at any distance. Individuals choosing multifocal lenses may not need glasses for seeing up close or at a distance.
I can see the hole in my wallet
While these lenses can be great for vision, the pocketbook is another matter entirely. Insurance companies rarely cover the cost of lifestyle lenses as each lens is considered premium and not medically necessary. The surgeon may also require extra testing to maximize the chances of a successful surgical outcome. Be sure to have a detailed conversation with the doctor to understand the pros and cons of lifestyle lenses. Only then can a decision be made on which is best to use.