Absolutely! Lens replacement improves vision! But to understand how lens replacement surgery does this, it helps to know more about what’s going on in the eye to cause these vision issues in the first place.
Nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and other refractive errors are the result of an abnormally shaped eye. When light passes through the cornea (the very front surface), the convex curve bends and focuses it onto the surface of the retina, helping us see the world. However, if the cornea is misshapen or the eye itself is too long or too short, this will cause light to bend, or refract, incorrectly. Instead of pointing light precisely on the retina, the refractive error redirects the “bend” of the light in front of the retina or behind it, leading to blurriness or distortion near, far or everywhere.
Similar to laser vision correction procedures, lens replacement corrects the refractive error. Rather than reshaping the cornea, like in a laser vision correction procedure, this procedure replaces the natural lens which sits behind the iris, or colored-pat of the eye, with a manmade intraocular lens (IOL). This ensures that light entering the eye can focus properly on the retina. This means that people will see sharper images, will have reduced or no dependency on eyeglasses or contacts, and better color perception.
IOL procedures, such as refractive lens exchange (RLE) that is being done at Brinton Vision in St. Louis, have been used successfully to treat presbyopia (over-40 vision) and high hyperopia (farsightedness). These lens replacement procedures are an especially effective option as a cataract surgery alternative for patients who aren’t candidates for LASIK, PRK or SMILE.
Cataract patients who are candidates for RLE may have their cloudy natural lenses removed and replaced with a prescription IOL during the same procedure. This not only removes the cataracts but also corrects other common vision problems and prevents the formation of cataracts in the future.
There are different types of intraocular lens in use today (monofocal, multifocal and toric, for example) but not everyone is a suitable candidate for RLE or other lens replacement procedures. Additionally, your unique vision needs and lifestyle may dictate a different treatment approach or qualify you for a range of treatment options.
Your Brinton Vision doctor may recommend lens replacement in one or both eyes, the same lens prescription for both, or even a different lens for each eye. At Brinton Vision we customize each treatment to a patient’s needs, desires and lifestyle. (We address monofocal versus multifocal lenses in greater detail in another blog.)
The decision-making process about lens replacement may feel overwhelming, especially if there is more than one possible treatment plan, but the doctors and surgeons at Brinton Vision are well equipped to walk you through your options and recommend the one most likely to yield the best long-term results.
Lens Replacement Surgery for Nearsightedness (Myopia)
While refractive lens exchange has high success rates and is considered extremely safe, it’s not for everyone. Your Brinton Vision Ocular Analysis is the first step to determining candidacy for this type of procedure. Due to the fact that RLE is an intraocular procedure, it does carry a higher risk of complications, such a retinal detachment, than laser vision correction procedures.
Myopic patients in particular are naturally at a higher risk for retinal detachment than those with hyperopia (farsightedness), presbyopia (over-40 vision) and astigmatism due to the increased length of the eye itself. Your Brinton Vision doctor will discuss in detail risk of complications, as well as other alternative procedures that may carry less risk if you qualify.
Refractive Lens Exchange for High Myopia
The risk of retinal detachment following a lens extraction is slightly higher naturally for mildly myopic patients, than those with other types for refractive error. This risk increases further in those patients who are extremely nearsighted patients due to the increased length of the eye itself. Even so, RLE and other lens replacement procedures are still considered very safe. Anyone considering lens replacement should discuss the risks and benefits in detail with their eye doctor.
For many people with severe myopia, the prospect of better-than-ever vision, and decreased or no reliance on glasses and contacts, more than outweighs the relatively low complication risk of RLE.
Lens Replacement Surgery for Farsightedness
Patients with mild farsightedness are often not considered to be good candidates for lens replacement procedures such as refractive lens exchange if under the age of 50. Mild hyperopia can sometimes be treated with LASIK or PRK. Your Brinton Vision doctor can advise you if you’re a good candidate for LASIK or any of the LASIK alternatives we offer.
Patients with moderate to severe hyperopia are not generally considered candidates for LASIK or PRK but can often be treated with RLE depending on age.
If you have hyperopia, high myopia, presbyopia or astigmatism and think you might be a candidate for refractive lens exchange (RLE) in one or both eyes, schedule your Brinton Vision Ocular Analysis (BVOA) today.
Learn More: Is Lens Replacement Surgery Safe?