How is Natural Lens Replacement different from cataract removal?
Natural Lens Replacement is actually identical to cataract removal. In each, the natural lens inside the eye (the crystalline lens) is removed and replaced with an artificial lens. In Natural Lens Replacement, this is performed to decrease the need for glasses. In cataract removal, the procedure is performed because the natural lens has become cloudy, forming a cataract, which causes the vision to be blurry even with glasses.
Is Natural Lens Replacement more invasive than Lasik?
Natural Lens Replacement involves entering the eye, whereas Lasik is performed on the cornea, which is the outer layer of the eye. For this reason, Natural Lens Replacement is more invasive. When you enter the eye, you increase the risk of serious infection and can have other complications, such as swelling or detachment of the retina, which can cause a decrease in vision. When performed by a highly qualified surgeon, these risks are very small.
Who is the ideal candidate for Natural Lens Replacement?
The ideal candidate is a patient 50 years old or older who is too farsighted to have laser vision correction. If the patient is a candidate for either procedure, laser vision correction is usually the preferable choice, due to a lower risk of serious complications. The Implantable Contact Lens (Phakic IOL) is usually preferable for patients under 50 years old. One risk of Natural Lens Replacement is retinal detachment, which requires an additional procedure should it occur. Because hyperopic (farsighted) people have a much lower risk of retinal detachment than nearsighted people, most doctors are more likely to recommend Natural Lens Replacement for farsighted, rather than nearsighted, individuals.
Can Natural Lens Replacement correct presbyopia?
Natural Lens Replacement can help with presbyopia. Lenses are now available, since 2005, that can correct both distance and intermediate or near vision, and one of these lenses can be used to replace the natural lens that is removed. These lenses are not as good at changing from far to near vision as your natural lens was before presbyopia set in around the age of 45, but they can eliminate the need for distance and reading glasses in most people for most activities. Some people are bothered by the halos that these lenses cause, and each lens corrects near or intermediate vision (but not both), so you must discuss this carefully with your doctor.
How expensive is Natural Lens Replacement?
Natural Lens Replacement must be performed in an Ambulatory Surgical Center, so it is more expensive than laser vision correction.
What are the main complications of Natural Lens Replacement?
It is of course possible to perform the procedure, and still have some farsightedness or nearsightedness remaining. In such a situation, the artificial lens can be taken out and replaced with a slightly different lens, or, laser vision correction can be performed to fine-tune the result. Astigmatism is usually not correctable with the current technology of artificial lenses, so either laser vision correction or AK (astigmatic keratotomy) can be performed to lessen the astigmatism. Serious complications are also possible, including infection, retinal detachment, retinal swelling, and all of the other complications that can occur with cataract removal. Fortunately, these serious complications are rare.
How long does the procedure take? Can it be done in the office?
Natural Lens Replacement takes around 30 minutes. It must be performed in an outpatient Ambulatory Surgery Center.
Does it hurt?
There is little if any discomfort with Natural Lens Replacement. You should be able to return to most activities, including driving and working, the next day.