52% of patients with cataracts also have astigmatism or farsightedness. Conversely, nearly all of us are at risk of developing presbyopia, or nearsightedness, at some point. For the person who has cataracts, the risks of these other two conditions do not go away. In fact, a fair number of people who get treated for cataracts also have some degree of farsightedness or nearsightedness – or both – at the same time. This might sound like bad news, but it presents us with an excellent opportunity to address all three in one procedure.
Cataracts develop on the lens of one or both eyes when protein particles accumulate and form a clump. As this island of protein particles expands, vision progressively grows cloudier. It may become difficult to differentiate between colors. Reading and performing other tasks also become challenging. The choice to have cataracts removed is very personal and not dependent on any factor other than a desire to see more clearly. Cataracts do not cause blindness. Once they are removed, the visual field is cleared of its perpetual fog. However, that doesn’t mean it will be clear.
When presbyopia and astigmatism coincide with cataracts, these conditions may be corrected alongside cataract removal. Dr. Murrell can do this because a number of intraocular lenses, or IOLs, have been developed to replace the natural lens in a way that also accounts for the vision error.
There are a variety of IOLs that are popular today, though some more than others. While there are lenses that can provide better visual clarity at all distances, the standard IOL continues to lead the pack. A standard IOL clears the visual field of fog and also corrects one focal point. This could be distance or near but is usually selected for distance. This means patients continue to need reading glasses.
Premium IOLs like the Symphony Toric lens offer more clarity at all distances and can correct astigmatism. Though near distance is improved with a Toric lens, many patients do still need to use weak reading glasses for up-close tasks.