An intraocular lens (IOL) implant is an acrylic replacement for your eye’s natural lens and takes over the image-focusing function in your eye. The IOL, just like the natural lens, focuses light inside the eye.
IOLs are able to correct a wider range of vision problems than any other vision correction surgery. They can be used to correct myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia (the difficulty focusing up close that starts around age 40). However, an IOL is most commonly used for vision correction as part of cataract surgery or Refractive Lens Exchange.
An IOL is approximately 1/3 the size of a dime. It is circular in the center and has arms called “haptics” on either side which hold it in place.
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Before Intraocular Lens Implants
If you and your doctor decide you are a candidate for an intraocular lens implant, you’ll set an appointment to meet your surgeon for a presurgical exam and evaluation of your specific situation. At this consultation your surgeon will advise you how to prepare for your upcoming surgery:
. Stop wearing contact lenses
. Take fish oil supplements to decrease dry eye symptoms
. Insert artificial tears (liquid drops) four times per day
What are the risks or complications of Intraocular Lens Implant?
Any surgery has a chance of complications. It's rare after an intraocular lens implant, but you might notice bleeding or get an infection. Redness or swelling are more common.
More serious risks include:
. A detached retina, which happens when that layer of nerve cells separates from the back of your eye. This is a medical emergency.
. Vision loss
. Dislocation -- when the implant moves out of position
You may also get an after-cataract anywhere from weeks to years after surgery. This happens when the tissue around your new lens gets cloudy and your eyesight blurs. Your doctor can fix this with a painless laser procedure.
During Intraocular Lens Implant Surgery
During the procedure
You’ll be asked to arrive 45 minutes prior to surgery to sign various forms, including your operative consent form. You’ll also receive post-operative instructions and meet again with your surgeon to answer any questions. Because you cannot drive after surgery, please make arrangements to have someone take care of your transportation.
In most cases, there is no pain involved. The surgery is usually done with relaxing medications and a local anesthetic.
. You will take a Valium to relax and settle back into a near- horizontal position in your surgical chair
. A special pillow keeps your head comfortable and still
. Anesthetic drops are applied to numb your eyes; additional drops are used throughout the procedure
. Sometimes, a relatively painless injection is also given around or behind the eye to prevent eye movement
. As a patient, you will feel relaxed and drowsy and will not experience pain during surgery
. Your surgeon will place a special ring that gently applies pressure to flatten your cornea and hold the eye still
. This pressure, or suction, may be uncomfortable and darken your vision; this is normal, but is only temporary
. A lid speculum is placed into the eye to prevent blinking
. Anesthetic drops are again applied
. In most surgeries, your surgeon uses an ultrasonic hand instrument to make a microincision in the cornea to access the cataract
. In some cataract surgeries, your surgeon uses precision laser technology to create the incision
. With the incision made, your surgeon next uses a micro probe to break up the cataract and remove it, if required
. Once the incision is made – and the natural lens is removed, if required – the artificial lens is delivered into the eye through the incision
. To safeguard the placement, the lens is first folded; once in place, the lens is unfolded and fixed into position inside the eye
. With the lens implanted and in place, the suction is turned off and the ring removed
. Because this is a minimally invasive procedure, the microincision typically heals itself without the need for stitches
. The entire procedure takes approximately 15 to 30 minutes per eye
. Once the procedure is completed, your eye will be covered with a bandage, which can usually be removed within a few hours
. Because general anesthesia is only necessary in rare circumstances, most patients will be able to go home within two to three hours of arrival.
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After Intraocular Lens Implant Surgery
Recovery time is typically one or two days, but every person is unique and your healing experience will depend on the underlying health of your eye and the ease of your surgery. In addition, an unnatural element has been introduced into the body, making it all the more important to plan regularly scheduled visits for your surgeon and technician to monitor your progress. Blurry or foggy vision is typical immediately after surgery. Your eyes may feel somewhat sore and gritty, which is also normal. These symptoms will improve and irritation will subside within a few days. Your eyes may also be slightly swollen and you may see red spots (superficial blood) on the whites of your eyes, but these symptoms will also disappear within weeks after surgery.
. Do not rub your eyes or squeeze your eyelids
. Expect drowsiness for several hours after surgery due to the Valium
. As soon as possible after surgery, get some sleep – and be sure to wear your protective eye shield
. When you awake, take the prescribed medication and eye drops; note, these may sting
. Wash your hands prior to using drops and do not touch the dropper to your eye
. Meet your surgeon for your first post-op visit the day after surgery to check eye pressure and look for signs of infection or inflammation
. If you have severe pain, severe loss of vision or a discharge other than tearing – call our office anytime, 24/7
Ongoing Care Following Surgery
Intraocular lens implant surgery involves advanced materials and technological innovations, and in the hands of our gifted surgeons the results are remarkable. Implanting an unnatural material into the eye carries inherent risks, however, and as a patient you will be encouraged to follow the strictest protocol to help ensure you achieve optimal results. Your vision can be blurred for up to six weeks after the surgery, but typically returns to pre-surgical levels. If you wear contact lenses, you may experience some discomfort after surgery.
. At your first post op-visit, your surgeon will validate whether your vision is acceptable for driving
. You’ll also want to change your driver’s license to remove your vision restriction
. Wear the protective eye shields at bedtime or while napping for one week after surgery
. Do not swim or use a hot tub, sauna or any place with treated water for two weeks after surgery
. Resume normal exercise, but for contact sports wear eye protection for three months after surgery
. Do not wear eye makeup for two weeks after surgery
. Purchase new makeup and brushes to avoid spreading bacteria from used products
. Continue taking fish oil supplements and artificial tears
. Continue taking eye drops per your surgeon’s instructions