New advances in cataract surgery at St. Luke’s Hospital

Published 4:45 pm Thursday, July 16, 2009

&dquo;Cataract is not a growth but rather a yellowing of the natural lens in the eye,&dquo; explains Dr. Perraut. &dquo;It is usually a gradual process in which the lens becomes less clear and harder to see through. The lens, when unclear, is unable to focus light the way it should. Many who suffer from cataracts choose to have cataract surgery when they no longer feel comfortable with their daily activities. Clear lens implants are used to replace the cloudy natural lens during surgery.&dquo;

Dr. Perraut now uses Crystalens, a type of intraocular lens (IOL) most frequently used to treat cataracts. Crystalens is one of many options available and the favorite of Dr. Perraut because it offers more freedom from glasses and fewer undesirable side effects than other options.

The eye&squo;s crystalline lens naturally performs &dquo;accommodation,&dquo; or automatic focusing. It does that by changing its curvature, making it steeper for close objects and flatter for far objects. As the eyes age, the lens becomes less flexible, and some accommodation is lost. This condition is known as presbyopia, and often occurs in individuals after age 40. If you require reading glasses or bifocals, this is probably the result of presbyopia.

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According to Dr. Perraut, conventional IOLs focus for distance vision only, so patients may require reading glasses or monovision for near vision. Crystalens, however, offers the ability to accommodate and can move forward and backward within the eye, controlled by the ciliary muscles that in a normal eye control the lens curvature. This mimics the natural lens changes of curvature. For many patients, Crystalens eliminates the need for reading glasses or bifocals.

&dquo;I am so delighted that I chose to have the Crystalens implant versus a standard implant. I have had fabulous results,&dquo; says Mary Claire Jenks, a recent Crystalens patient. &dquo;I can honestly say that I have not seen this well since I was a child. I have been wearing glasses since the 4th grade. That&squo;s over 60 years! I can finally see everything clearly. &dquo;

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reported that Crystalens offers excellent success in achieving normal vision. Based on data collected for 497 patients, the FDA reported:

&ull; Reading the fine print of newspapers was easier for 98.4 percent of the patients;

&ull; Reading the mail and a computer screen improved for 100 percent of the patients;

&ull; 98.4 percent of patients achieved 20/40 or better distance vision and 20/20 or 20/30 vision overall.

According to Dr. Perraut, patients expect to see better after cataract surgery, but many don&squo;t know they could see well without glasses and even reading glasses if they choose Crystalens. For those wanting more freedom from glasses in the distance, up close, and everything in the middle, nothing compares to the natural movement of Crystalens in the opinion of Dr. Perraut.

&dquo;Patients who are good candidates for standard monofocal IOLs are typically good candidates for Crystalens. If a patient has healthy eyes, has not had previous cataract surgery, and does not suffer from any major health problems, then he or she is likely to be a good candidate,&dquo; says Dr. Perraut.

The Crystalens cataract surgery is typically an outpatient surgery. The actual surgery itself is approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Topical anesthetic drops will be placed in the eye and oral medications may be administered to help patients relax. Typically, patients can return to their normal routine after 2-3 days.