Published: Jan. 31, 2006
Updated: Sept. 1, 2010
Patients with cataracts may be able to toss those eyeglasses away for good.
Specialists can remove cataracts and replace them with a tiny intraocular lens implant. But because the implants can help only at a single focal point -- usually distance vision -- many patients have still needed to use glasses for reading and other close tasks.
That changed recently when the FDA approved new “bifocal” lens implants that can restore both distance and close-up vision, completely eliminating the need for glasses in 80 to 90 percent of patients who received the lenses in both eyes.
Robin Vann, MD, chief of the comprehensive ophthalmology service at Duke University Eye Center, says that several manufacturers already have received FDA approval for multifocal lens implants for cataract patients.
Brand names include:
Several surgeons at the Duke Eye Center in Durham and the Duke Eye Center of Winston-Salem began implanting these lenses in summer 2005.
More than half of all Americans develop cataracts by age 80. Their most common cause is aging.
“Cataracts occur when the lens that focuses light in the eye ages and eventually becomes cloudy,” explains Alan Carlson, MD, chief of the Eye Center’s corneal and refractive surgery service.
A cataract isn’t a film over the eye, but a gradual clouding of the lens itself, which is behind the pupil.
If you’re over 50 and your vision gradually begins to cloud, or headlights at night overwhelm with their glare, you may have a cataract. An eye exam can reveal them.
Whether for traditional lens implants or the new multi-focal implants, elective cataract surgery itself takes only minutes, is done on an outpatient basis, and doesn’t require general anesthesia. The incision is so small it usually doesn’t require stitches, and most patients return to normal activities within a week.
For more information about cataract treatment at Duke or the ReSTOR lens, please visit Duke Eye Center.