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Artificial Lens Implant FAQ

Does Having a Lens Implant Mean That I Won’t Need Glasses Anymore?

No. While we are young, our internal eye muscles can change and control the shape of the natural human lens. This alters the lens power, and allows us to shift our focal distance, from far to near. It is so fast and automatic (like an auto-focus camera) that we aren’t even aware that it is occurring. Whether the eye has good distance focus with or without glasses, it is this accommodation of our natural lens that enables us to focus closer up to read.

Presbyopia is the natural and unavoidable process by which everyone slowly loses the ability to accommodate over time. This is due to a loss of lens flexibility with age. As we progress from our forties through our sixties, everyone gradually loses the ability to focus in the direction from far to near. This function is instead replaced with reading glasses (for the person who sees distance well without glasses) or bifocals and trifocals (for the person who needs eyeglasses to see distance).

There is no guarantee that the targeted focal distance will be attained following surgery. Fortunately, eyeglasses can be used to provide clear focus; just as they do for any other patient whose eyes do not have perfect focus naturally.

Does the Artificial Lens Replace the Need for Sunglasses?

Sunglasses provide two benefits. Their darker tint reduces the brightness of our surroundings by decreasing the amount of light that reaches the eye. Ultraviolet rays are what cause sunburn, and are present even on overcast days. Because of the potential for cumulative damage to the retina over time, it is advisable to block out ultraviolet light. Modern artificial lens implants are permanently coated so as to provide this UV protection at all times. Since the implant is not darkly tinted, patients may still choose to wear sunglasses for comfort, just as they did before their cataract surgery.

Can the IOL be Removed and Replaced?

Although it is rarely necessary, the IOL can be removed and replaced. Although the need to remove the lens is very unusual, the most common reason would be that the power is incorrect, despite all the preliminary calculations. Another reason would be if the IOL shifted out of position inside the eye. This is very rare. Because the artificial lens is designed to be permanent, it is not a simple task to remove the IOL.

If I previously Had LASIK, R.K., or Other Refractive Surgery, Can I Still Have an IOL?

Yes. However, prior refractive surgery significantly impairs the IOL power selection process. Because of the significant surgical alteration in the corneal shape, the corneal measurements used to calculate the necessary IOL power become very inaccurate. One must often rely upon prior records from exams immediately before and after the refractive surgery. Even so, it is still very difficult to estimate the required IOL power. The further off this calculation is, the stronger the postoperative eyeglasses for distance focus will need to be.