What would happen if you lost your reading glasses? For most of us in the 40 and over club, we know the answer to this question because it happens all the time. We turn on all the lights, squint and stretch our arms out to try to decipher the tiny print. Finally, we either give up or go and buy yet another pair of reading glasses until every drawer, cabinet, couch cushion and glove box has one. If this scenario sounds familiar, you are dealing with a condition called presbyopia, which is the degenerative aging process that is affecting the focusing ability of the eye’s natural lens. In fact, presbyopia is commonly called dysfunctional lens syndrome, which gets to the core of the underlying cause. Also, it’s important to know that this affects individuals at different points in their lives, but most commonly starts showing up between 40 and 50 years of age. That means approximately 150 million Americans are dealing with this very annoying problem.
Bad News/Good News
Unfortunately, there is no way to naturally reverse dysfunctional lens syndrome. In fact, once the lens begins to lose its focusing ability, it will get progressively worse. That’s why the reading glasses you are using today, may not be strong enough in a year or two. Ultimately, the dysfunctional lens will also start to lose its clarity, preventing good vision even with corrective glasses or contact lenses. Once this occurs, the dysfunctional lens is defined as a cataract and insurance will cover the procedure to remove it once it becomes significantly opaque. However, most people live the most productive years of their lives (between 45-65) dealing with the frustrations of a dysfunctional lens.
The good news is that dysfunctional lens syndrome can be treated. In most cases a solution can be provided that will dramatically reduce the dependence on glasses for most tasks. While your vision may never be quite as good as it was when you were younger, by removing the dysfunctional lens and implanting a special advanced technology intraocular lens, we are able to improve the lives of our patients in a meaningful way. Once the dysfunctional lens is removed, we are also preventing the formation of a cataract. So, with one surgical process, we are able to restore distance, intermediate and near vision, providing a lifetime of clear vision.
There are many different types of prescription intraocular lenses, and the particular risks and benefits of each lens need to be discussed to set appropriate expectations and to match the lifestyle needs of each patient.