Intra-Ocular Lens - Cataract Extraction & IOL eye surgery

Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye which tend to form as we age. Experts are not sure as to why the lens changes as we get older but they have identified a variety of factors which may be a trigger:

  • Diabetes: people with diabetes appear to be at greater risk.
  • Exposure to sunlight/ultraviolet light.
  • Exposure to radiation such as cosmic radiation.
  • Excessive salt consumption: a diet high in salt may contribute to cataracts.
  • Steroid, diuretic or tranquiliser use.
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Pollution
  • Heavy alcohol use

However, cataracts can be treated in a variety of ways. These include bifocal glasses, new glasses or magnification. Another option is cataract surgery.

What is a cataract?

A cataract is where protein within the lens itself starts to form a ‘clump’ which then grows and eventually obscures the lens. It is seen as a ‘cloud’ over the lens.

There are three types of cataracts: subcapsular, cortical and nuclear.

Subcapsular cataracts start at the rear of the lens and can be caused by diabetes, retinitis pigmentosa or a severe level of presbyopia.

Cortical cataracts tend to form in the cortex of the lens. This is particularly noticeable in diabetics.

Nuclear cataracts are the most obvious form of cataracts. They form in the centre of the lens or nucleas.

What are the symptoms with a cataract?

You may notice that your vision is poor at night or that it appears to be blurred. You may have double vision (very rare) or find that objects appear to have a yellow tinge.

If you find that your prescription needs to be changed more often or if you have any of these symptoms then consult your GP.

Cataract surgery

An IOL or Intra-Ocular Lens is a clear, plastic lens, similar to your normal contact lens which can be implanted inside the eye. It is inserted inside the cornea and sits behind the iris.

This lens can either be inserted into the cornea, as an additional lens or as a replacement for the lens itself as part of a ‘Refractive Lens Exchange’ (RLE) procedure.

There are 3 different types of IOL’s. These are Phakic, Aphakic and Pseudophakic IOL’s.

Phakic IOL’s are used to treat refractive errors such as short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism. They do not replace the natural lens in the eye.

Aphakic IOL’s are part of the Clear Lens Exchange procedure (CLE). They are used to replace a faulty or absent lens in the eye.

Pseudophakic IOL’s are used to replace a faulty or diseased lens of the eye with a synthetic alternative. They are used as part of the CLE or Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) procedure.

The most popular type of Phakic IOL is the ‘Artisan’ lens. These are either spherical (rounded) or toric (sphere/cylinder combo).

Another type of Phakic IOL is the ICL or ‘Implantable Contact Lens’ (ICL). An example of this is the STAAR ICL.

What is the difference between the intra-ocular lens (IOL) and the implantable contact lens (ICL)? The main difference is that the IOL is used to replace a cloudy or defective lens in the eye, whereas the ICL is implanted into eyes which still have their original lens

IOL Eye Surgery Guide:

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