What is an IOL for Cataract Surgery?
Intraocular lenses are type of replacement lens used in cataract surgery which improve vision by replacing the eye’s natural lens with an artificial lens. IOLs can also treat Presbyopia – a naturally occurring condition for those over 40 which causes the regression of near distance vision.
What is the difference between ICL and IOL?
IOLs replace the cloudy, crystaline lens which forms during a cataract. The IOL allows patients to see see clearly after the cataract has been removed.
ICLs (implantable collamer lens) are used to improve vision for patients who do not have cataracts. The ICL replaces the eyes natural lens and can improve eyesight for those with myopia, hyperopia and hyperopia with astigmatism.
|Condition||IOLs treat||ICLs treat|
|Hyperopia with astigmatism||x|
Types of Intraocular lens
- Monofocal – This is the standard lens used to replace the hard, cloudy lens that forms on the eye during cataract. During the procedure the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens to restore clear vision. Monofocal lenses are set at a single focus, usually for distance vision, this means you will likely have to wear glasses for mid distance and near distance vision even after surgery.
- Accommodating – The accommodating lens, such as the Crystalens™, is placed beneath the cornea once a cataract is removed. This lens is attached to the cilliary muscles of the eye allowing it to move in a similar way to the eye’s natural lens. A versatile option, the accommodating lens allows you to focus at various distances but you may still require reading glasses for near distance vision.
- Multifocal – The multifocal lens has multiple focussing zones, much like multifocal glasses or contact lenses. Because the lens is placed within the eye your brain quickly adapts to the various focussing zones, providing complete freedom from glasses at all distances.
- Phakic IOL: Phakic IOLs are not used in cataract surgery. Known as a posterior chamber IOL they are positioned behind the iris and in front of the natural lens to treat myopia (shortsightedness). Phakic IOLs are considered a more reliable choice than LASIK for the right patient. If you have suffered from cataract you will not be eligible for phakic IOLs.
How much does intraocular lens surgery cost?
|Type of IOL||Cost|
|Monofocal IOL||From £1795 per eye|
|Multifocal IOL||From £2095 per eye|
|Accommodating||From £2095 per eye|
|Phakic IOL||From £2295 per eye|
The price of intraocular lenses can vary based on the technology and focussing power of the lens.
As a general rule the more expensive the lens the less dependent you will be on glasses or contact lenses. It is worth considering that your surgeon will be able to determine the best lens to suit your needs.
Can IOLs treat myopia?
Myopia (shortsightedness) is common problem for many patients and while most types of IOL would be unsuitable for treating myopia there is a solution: Since 2010 Phakic IOLs have been used to correct myopia for those who are not eligible for laser eye surgery.
The types of Phakic IOL that can correct myopia are:
- Visian ICL
Phakic IOL is a type of ICL and cannot be implanted after cataract due to the weakening of the eye after cataract surgery.
How long do intraocular lenses last?
Intraocular lenses are intended to be a permanent solution to correct vision and should last a lifetime. They are made of acrylic, plastic or silicone which does not deteriorate. However, as your prescription changes with age you may find that over time the IOL becomes slightly less effective.
Intraocular lens complications
Like all medical procedures IOL surgery is not entirely risk free. A small number of patients may experience complications such as:
- Aftercataract (Posterior capsular opacification). A cloudy part of the lens that remains after cataract surgery. This can be removed with laser surgery.
- Retinal Detachment
- Dislocated or decentred intraocular lens
Can an intraocular lens be removed and replaced?
Some patients may wish to change their prescription or ‘upgrade’ to newer technology but due the associated risk it is unlikely that a surgeon would be willing to replace the lens. Once an IOL has been put in place the eye naturally becomes weaker and less stable which could lead to further complications if the lens were to be replaced in an elective procedure.
If the lens is causing problems which could lead to loss of vision the lens can be removed. This may happen if the patient develops glaucoma or inflammation of the eye.
What is the recovery time for IOL surgery?
The recovery time for IOL surgery varies from patient to patient but you should expect to have clear vision within a few hours of leaving the clinic. After two weeks your vision will have become sharper and within a month you will have optimal vision. Once your vision has stabilised fully you will have an appointment with an optometrist and will be given a final prescription.
Intraocular lenses vs LASIK
LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis), commonly known as laser eye surgery, corrects common refractive errors such as myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism whereas IOLs are a treatment for cataracts.
Phakic IOLs, such as Visian ICL, can treat high myopia and where the patient is not suited to the LASIK due to thin corneas.