The Greek word for “aging eye,” presbyopia is the most prevalent eye condition in America, affecting most people after the age of 40 and everyone by their early 50s. Presbyopia causes near vision to fade with age due to a stiffening of the eye’s natural lens, making it difficult to see things up close.
When looking at a distance, the lens is able to flatten out so the image can focus on the retina. When we read, our lens becomes more curved to help focus up close. Stiffness prevents the lens from focusing on a near object. Presbyopia causes light to focus behind the retina. After 40, aging lenses begin to suffer from presbyopia, gradually becoming stiffer and stuck in a flatter position. Because of this stiffness, the lens can’t change its shape to adjust to reading distance like it used to, and image rays from reading sources no longer come to a point focus on the retina.
An estimated 90 million baby boomers either have presbyopia or will develop it within ten years. These people struggle to read or do hobby work and must rely on magnifying reading glasses for even the most mundane daily tasks, such as checking a watch. But now, thanks to new advancements in eye care, qualified patients can undergo laser, non-laser and implant procedures to improve their reading vision.
Sometime around age 40, most people begin facing the inevitable need for corrective lenses to see clearly at close ranges, even if they have never needed them for distance. But now, thanks to new advancements in eye care, qualified patients can undergo simple outpatient procedures to improve near vision.
Following a complete ocular examination, your doctor will determine which procedure will suit your individual vision needs. Because contact lenses can temporarily alter the surface of the cornea, patients are asked to discontinue wearing their contacts approximately two weeks before the procedure.
By using laser techniques, qualified patients can receive a laser vision correction procedure that corrects one eye for distance vision and one for near vision. After this correction, the brain naturally alternates between eyes depending upon where you are focusing. This procedure can be simulated prior to being performed to determine whether or not it matches your visual goals.
A Refractive Lens Exchange is a procedure nearly identical to cataract surgery in which the impaired natural lens is replaced with an artificial one. With this procedure, unlike cataracts, the eye’s natural lens has not developed into a true cloudy cataract, so its replacement usually serves to correct either farsightedness or focusing difficulties. Advanced implants such as multifocal and accommodating lenses are designed to provide a continuous range of vision for distance, intermediate, near and everything in between, eliminating or reducing your dependence on reading glasses or bifocals.
Multifocal lens implants, like the Restor lens pictured, allow focusing to occur at multiple distances by using light that enters the eye. Multifocal lenses are made up of concentric, circular lens optics, which function much like bifocal or multifocal lenses in reading glasses to focus at different distances. The center of the lens provides distance vision, while each surrounding ring stabilizes vision at intermediate and close range. A certain percentage of the lens is devoted to distance, near and intermediate vision, virtually eliminating the need for glasses in many patients. Some eyes take longer than others to grow accustomed to a multifocal lens, and the Multifocal lens inside the eye potential exists for problems with halos and glare.
Presbyopia, the condition where our eye’s natural lens begins to grow thicker and harder, is also known as a loss of accommodation. Accommodation allows an eye to automatically focus its lens. Usually this condition signals a need for reading glasses or bifocals. However, new lens implants can allow patients to regain their near and distance vision without depending on glasses.
Accommodating lenses are designed to be an artificial replacement for your eye’s natural lens. They can be used both as the replacement lens in cataract surgery and for people who elect to replace their natural lens through refractive lens exchange.
ReLACS™ – or Refractive Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery – is a custom, blade-free cataract removal procedure now offered at Vance Thompson Vision.
Traditional cataract surgery has always involved a blade to create several small incisions during the procedure. With ReLACS, these incisions are now made with a laser. This technology allows our surgeons to plan and perform cataract surgeries with laser precision.
Surgeons experience more control and flexibility, plus ReLACS features real-time tools for an accurate visual of what’s going on inside the eye. As the first and only practice in the region to offer ReLACS, the surgeons at Vance Thompson Vision have participated in clinical development of this new laser and many vision technologies.
When used in conjunction, ReLACS and a variety of intraocular lenses may give patients even more visual freedom after cataract surgery, helping them remain active for decades.
At your cataract consultation, you will be educated on the traditional blade-based approach and the ReLACS laser-assisted approach to cataract surgery so that a decision can be made for your situation and goals.
With cataract surgery, it is important to go to a center that offers several implant options to match your lifestyle. Vance Thompson Vision offers a full menu of lens implant options for distance vision and near vision functioning, along with the ability to fine tune your vision after surgery with laser precision.
Standard monofocal implants have been used for many years to reduce glare and visual disturbances. Standard implants are both effective and less expensive than more advanced implants but have no ability to provide vision at more than one distance. Patients who select a standard aspheric lens still need to wear corrective lenses (trifocals) for activities like reading and driving.
An accommodating lens implant can focus at variable distances with the ability to shift position in the eye and change focus points, just as your natural lens did when you were younger. This often allows for very good distance and intermediate vision without corrective lenses. Because of the advanced nature of this lens implant, there is an additional cost beyond what your insurance would normally pay.
A multi focal lens has the ability to focus at more than one distance, much like bifocal contact lenses do. Due to the sophisticated design of these lenses, they are usually not fully covered by your insurance and will often carry an additional fee. If you would like to reduce your need for glasses after cataract surgery, an accommodating or multi focal lens may be your best option.
Until recently, patients with cataracts and astigmatism were still reliant on glasses or contacts for clearer vision after surgery. Now, new toric lenses treat cataract patients with astigmatism, giving them greater visual freedom. Astigmatism results when the eye’s cornea has an irregular shape. Toric lenses are specially designed to help reduce or eliminate astigmatism and provide excellent distance vision, independent of glasses or contacts. Toric lenses also improve contrast sensitivity in low light situations and improve vision in challenging environments like fog and night glare. In addition, many other procedures may assist you in reducing your dependence on reading glasses while preserving your vision for distance.
If you’re interested in learning more about our laser, non-laser and implant options to correct your need for reading glasses, contact Vance Thompson Vision to find out about upcoming seminars or to schedule a free consultation.