ICT Eye, of Wichita, KS offers a range of services that help improve your vision, including lens replacement surgery. This is a corrective procedure that was initially developed to treat cataracts. As the procedure has become more common, doctors have adapted it to fix a variety of vision issues, including astigmatism, short- or long-sidedness, or presbyopia. The procedure can be done on one or both eyes.
Who Can Benefit From Lens Replacement?
Though it might be the original treatment for cataracts, it may also help should you be suffering from other visual issues related to the lens of the eye. As stated, it is now used to repair a number of defects in the eye. It is safe enough that it can be ideal for people over the age of 50 and may work as an acceptable alternative if laser eye surgery is not an option, even if you’ve been turned down for laser eye surgery for your issue.
How Does a Replacement Work?
Since the basic procedure has grown so commonplace, this is often an outpatient procedure. The patient may be offered a sedative to help relax the body and eye, but nothing that would put a patient completely out – only relaxed and groggy. Drops will be put in the patient’s eye to dilate the pupil, and local anesthetics are administered to numb the eye. The steps from here depend on the issue being treated and which specific procedure is used.
The surgeon starts by making a small incision in the front (cornea) of your eye. A needle-thin probe is inserted into the lens where the cataract substance has formed. The probe emits ultrasound waves that emulsify the cataract, which is then suctioned out of the eye. This may allow for leaving the original lens without needing to replace it with an artificial lens.
In cases where the ultrasound probe can not be used, the lens will likely need to be extracted in one piece. After the numbing of the eye, a larger incision is made than the one used for phacoemulsification. Through this, the front capsule of the lens is removed. The back capsule is left as it was so that it can serve as a placeholder for the artificial lens.
In any case, each eye is worked on independently. You do not need to wait the entire recovery period to do the second eye, however, as the second eye can undergo treatment in as little as a week after the first eye is treated.
The Replacement Lens
An intraocular lens is an artificial lens that will be placed into the eye where the original, damaged lens was. These lenses are usually silicone, acrylic, or a form of plastic. Many are already coated with an ultraviolet filter to help protect the eye from the sun. Since there are a variety of reasons that lead people to get one, there are as many types of artificial lenses as there are reasons to get the procedure.
These are the most common lenses used in cataract surgery due to their simplicity compared to other options. These lenses are designed to focus on close, medium, or long-distance viewing, but not all three. Many people who receive these lenses opt to have them set for distance vision and then wear eyeglasses for reading or close vision.
These lenses are for those who have already had a replacement. They serve as an add-on lens to balance the monofocal lenses and offer the ranges of vision that were not selected when the original lenses were set. These are placed directly on top of the monofocal lens and can be easily removed from the eye if you decide that the monofocal lenses served you better on its own.
These lenses offer close, medium, and long-distance viewing, ideally reducing the need for glasses. Essentially, they function similar to bifocal contact lenses, but are a permanent part of the eye. For these lenses to be an option, the cornea must have adequate optical properties and a surface that is free of streaks or dryness.
With monofocal lenses, the lens is designed to keep the optical portion of the lens completely stationary, with no effects from rotation and the lens unable to move forward or backward. With accommodating lenses, the lens is designed to prevent rotational movement yet is fixed, with flexibility for the optical portion of the lens to move slightly forward or backward upon the flexing of the ciliary muscle.
These lenses are designed specifically with astigmatism in mind. As it is caused by an uneven curve in the lens or cornea leading to a refractive error, this lens is customized to correct the refraction. Toric lenses are crafted on a case-by-case basis for optimum correction.
As with nearly all things, there are several brands that manufacture the same type of lenses. Our office can help determine which brand is the best of which type of lens for your particular needs.
Benefits of a Replacement Surgery
A total replacement has less stringent requirements than many laser eye surgeries. This means that people of advanced age can be offered this as an option, and it is even capable of treating presbyopia (farsightedness caused by aging). Additionally, people with severe cases of myopia or hyperopia are often unable to have laser eye surgery yet can benefit from a replacement. Corneal thickness is not altered.
In the long term, a replacement can completely circumvent the need to have cataract surgery as cataracts aren’t likely to develop in artificial lenses. Additionally, the corrective effect can be permanent, unlike with laser correction. The potential of not needing glasses or replacement contact lenses for several years can lead to a small fortune in savings. That doesn’t count the time spared from inserting/removing/maintaining contacts or looking for your glasses.
Qualifications for Prospective Candidates
You need to be at least 21 years of age or older to be considered for this surgery, with a preference for those over the age of 40. The condition in question needs to be severe enough to warrant surgery to deter unnecessary surgeries for those who have no problems other than just needing reading glasses.
Your eyes must be reasonably healthy, preferably with no history of eye diseases (other than what is being treated). Not every disease is a total disqualification. For instance, pinkeye is only going to stop surgery during the time of infection, not prevent you from getting treatment forever.
The Cost of Replacing a Lens
Despite the enhanced functions and better sight this procedure offers, this surgery is still considered an elective procedure. Though many insurance companies do not cover such, policies that offer flexible spending accounts can be used to upgrade surgeries.
Insurance may be willing to cover the expenses of the surgery if it is for treating cataracts but may not be willing to do so for correcting mild nearsightedness. Your situation, and insurance, will ultimately determine the out-of-pocket expenses for this procedure.
Preparing for Lens Replacement Surgery
Once you have decided to pursue the lens replacement, the doctor will cover the specifics of preparing for surgery. About a week prior to the surgery, your doctor will conduct an ultrasound to get the exact shape and size of your eyes. This helps determine the options of replacement lenses, if necessary. You may also be provided antibiotic eye drops to begin using before the appointment to prevent infection during the surgery.
You will likely be asked to refrain from eating after midnight of the night before the surgery. Certain medications may have to be skipped the day before or the day of the procedure, which will be covered by the doctor. Arrangements will also need to be made for someone to drive you home after completion of the replacement.
How Long Does It Take to Recover From Lens Replacement Surgery?
Fortunately, the process of lens replacement surgery has become so simple that it can be performed with no pain felt. Depending on the type of surgery that is performed, the incisions may be so minuscule that they do not require stitching after the cut is made. Once the process has been completed, you will be taken to a recovery area to rest for about 15 to 30 minutes. You will then be sent home with a list of instructions.
Your vision will be blurry for a couple of days as your eyes heal from the doctor’s visit. As the healing happens, your vision should be noticeably improved. If you had cataracts removed, colors will appear brighter, as the brown or yellow tinting of the cataract will no longer be toning down the look of colors.
You will be asked to follow up with your eye doctor within two days of the procedure. The next checkpoint visits will be at the one-week and one-month marks to ensure that everything has been healing as it should. Should a procedure be for more complicated circumstances, the doctor may wish to see you more frequently.
Instructions During Recovery
Do not rub or press the eye despite any driving urge. The eye drops that were prescribed by the doctor prior to the surgery may continue to be used to prevent infection, reduce tissue inflammation, and regulate the pressure of the eyeball.
To be cautious, it may be suggested that you wear the eye patch for a couple of days and a protective shield for sleeping during the whole recovery period.
During recovery, many forms of exercise may be frowned upon due to the effects of pressure in the eyeball. Your doctor will be able to tell you what activities are acceptable and what to avoid. Most regular activities, such as driving, are cleared to do within the first week of the surgery. Avoid activities in which projectiles may come at your face.
Depending on the specific lens replacement procedure that you undergo, recovery time ranges from two to eight weeks. Certain corrective benefits may not be immediately realized as you adjust to an entirely new way of seeing, and there will be a period of blurriness. The simpler the procedure, the shorter that the recovery time will be and the sooner the visual benefits will be apparent.
Is It Time for Better Sight?
It isn’t necessary for cataracts or other defects in the eye to continue to keep you from seeing the world as it is. If you have any questions, or would like to help determine if this could be the ideal treatment for you, contact us today at ICT Eye in Wichita, KS, to schedule your initial consultation. We can’t wait to meet you and help you enhance your vision.