Health Break | Published October 8, 2007 | Written by Jeffrey L. Heimer, MD

Modern Lenses Offer Clear, Post-Surgery Eye Options

A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens within the eye. The result is that vision becomes blurred or hazy. This clouding tends to progress over time and with age, and may significantly impair vision. Cataract surgery is indicated when these vision changes start to interfere with activities of daily life or create safety issues, such as driving.

Thanks to new and progressing technology, patients with cataracts can enjoy excellent vision following cataract surgery. Typically, a man-made lens implant is placed in an eye following cataract surgery. This allows the individual to see clearly with a mild eye glass prescription, or no eye glass prescription at all. With modern lens implants, patients often do not need to wear contact lenses or thick glasses.

Cataract surgery is performed using advanced micro-surgical techniques. The cataract is removed through a very small (approximately 3 millimeter) incision. A man-made intraocular lens implant is placed through this incision into a stable position inside the eye. The goal is to restore the vision to the level before cataract development, and to protect the retina, for the individual's lifetime.

Early studies suggest that the entry of ultraviolet wave length light into the eye may lead to changes within the retina. Excess violet light in the eye may lead to changes associated with age related macular degeneration. Accordingly, lens implant manufacturers have tried to produce lens implants which block harmful types of light, without affecting the quality of the lens implants and the improved vision they provide.

A violet light filtering lens implant has been developed which may help protect eyes from light toxicity. Violet light blocking lenses have been thoroughly studied and investigated. Current evidence suggests that blocking violet light may be important in improving night vision and reducing glare following cataract surgery. Thus, the opportunity to replace the cataract with a lens implant of this type is desirable. The hope of this upgraded lens implant is that we not only restore vision to a pre-cataract level, but also provide protection that may help reduce the risk of developing other vision problems.

This violet light filtering lens implant developed by Bausch and Lomb was approved by the Federal Drug Administration in 2006. These lens implants are available at the Mount Nittany Surgical Center.

Jeffrey L. Heimer, MD is an ophthalmologist at Heimer Eye Care Associates and on the medical staff at Mount Nittany Medical Center.