Cataracts and Presbyopia: Will I Need Reading Glasses After Cataract Surgery?

Do these scenarios sound familiar to you? You’re walking through the grocery store, stop to read a label and remember that you can’t see up close as well as you used to. Or, you’re getting settled into bed for the night and pick up your favorite book only to have to scrounge around for the nearest pair of annoying reading glasses. This condition is called presbyopia, and is the bane of millions of American over 40 years old. Now, add in the blurriness of cataracts and you’re in for a world of frustration.

Cataracts and presbyopia are two of the world’s most common age-related vision problems. It is very likely you will experience these two conditions at the same time. Cataracts are easily treated through surgery, but does that mean you can get rid of your reading glasses too? Well, it depends!

The Lens: The Anatomy of Cataracts and Presbyopia

What do cataracts and presbyopia have in common? Well, aside from the fact that they’re both age-related, cataracts and presbyopia both affect the lens. The lens is a clear, flexible structure that sits right behind your iris (the colored part of your eye.) The lens, along with the cornea, plays a big part in how well light is refracted onto your retina. The state of your lens determines how clear your vision is!

Presbyopia, which most often occurs somewhere after the age of 40 years old, is a condition in which the normally flexible lens becomes more rigid. A normal lens is able to flex and “accommodate” for focusing on close objects. This is how you see up close! As we age, the lens loses its flexibility and makes it more difficult to see up close. This is why people with presbyopia often have to hold objects farther away to focus on them. Presbyopia can be corrected with reading glasses.

Cataracts occur when the lens starts to opacify or “fog up.” This happens when the proteins that make up the lens begin to break down and clump together, forming a fogginess that makes it hard for light to pass through the lens. Cataracts form over a long period of time, usually years, and most often begin when a person is over the age of 50. Cataracts can cause blindness if left untreated, but are easily removed during surgery.

Now that we know how the lens is affected by cataracts and presbyopia, what can we do to rid you of cataracts AND reading glasses?

Cataract Surgery and Presbyopia

During cataract surgery, your cataract surgeon will completely remove the affected lens. That means that in addition to removing the cataracts, your surgeon is removing the source of your presbyopia. Now, this does not necessarily mean you can toss your reading glasses just yet. There is still one more step we would have to take to improve your near vision.

When your surgeon removes the cataract-affected lens, something will have to go in its place. This “something” is called an intraocular lens, or IOL. IOLs were created to mimic your natural lens, and will be implanted in place of your old lens.

These IOLs come in a large variety of types, and can fit a number of different needs. Monofocal lenses are the standard IOL, and only allow you to see clearly at one distance. Toric lenses are best for people with astigmatism, and multifocal lenses can provide clear vision at multiple distances.

But what about IOLs for presbyopia?

The Tecnis Symfony IOL

Up until recently, there was no IOL made specifically to correct presbyopia. But you’re in luck! Johnson & Johnson created an IOL specifically for cataract patients with presbyopia. It’s called the Tecnis Symfony® Extended Depth of Focus IOL.

The Symfony® IOL has provided dramatic results for those who lived with cataracts and presbyopia. The Symfony® lens is special in that it allows for clear, full range vision while mitigating the effects of presbyopia altogether. What’s more? It comes in a toric version for astigmatic patients. Imagine knocking out three different vision problems during one procedure!

85% of patients who undergo cataract surgery and receive the Symfony® IOL report getting rid of their glasses, or wearing them very infrequently.

Ready to reduce your dependence on reading glasses? It’s time to contact the Santa Monica Eye Medical Group for your cataract surgery consultation! Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our expert cataract surgeons. Don’t wait any longer for the clear vision you deserve!

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