The Miracle of Modern
ushered in a new era in the field of cataract surgery,
as the FDA has approved the Alcon ReSTOR lens implant.
Whereas before, cataract surgery often provided the
ability to see far away without glasses, but not up
close, the ReSTOR corrects both near and distance
vision, so most patients don't wear any glasses at all.
discuss the ReSTOR in detail a bit later, but first,
lets take a closer look at cataract surgery and the role
of lens implants in general.
Inside of the eye, just
behind the colored iris, sits a small lens that is
normally crystal clear. This lens is essential to clear
vision, as it helps focus light onto the retina in back
of the eye.
For a variety of reasons,
the lens can become cloudy, at which time it is referred
to as a cataract. Cataracts occur in
people of all ages, including newborn babies. In young
adults, they are commonly the result of trauma,
prolonged inflammation within the eye or prolonged use
of certain medications - most notably steroids. But,
most cataracts occur in older individuals as a part of
the natural aging process.
Cataract surgery involves removal of the cloudy lens and
insertion of an artificial lens implant to take its
The most common method of removing the lens is through
phacoemulsification. This process uses a small probe
that emits high frequency sound waves to fragment the
lens into tiny pieces that are then vacuumed out of the eye.
Lasers are sometimes used for this
purpose as well, but the vast majority of cataracts in
the developed world are removed by phacoemulsification.
Before "phaco", a much larger incision was made and the
entire lens was removed from the eye at once.
The small incisions
associated with phacoemulsification usually self-seal
without stitches, heal quickly and don't induce
significant astigmatism, so the
visual outcome is often better.
The last step of
the procedure is to place the new lens into the eye.
The accompanying illustrations show the placement of a
foldable lens, another recent advancement.
Most of the time, cataract
surgery is covered by medical insurance. For a list
of the insurance plans we accept, please see our
Insurance Plans page.
Because of its newness and
cost, insurance coverage for the ReSTOR lens varies. In
some cases, implantation of the ReSTOR is not possible.
However, a number of excellent traditional lenses are
always available, including our preferred lens, the
We'll discuss the pros and
cons of each lens, as well as your individual insurance
situation, at the time of your cataract evaluation.
For a thorough discussion of
the ReSTOR and AcrySof lenses, please see our
Cataract Surgery Lenses
For more information on the
cataract surgery experience, please watch the cataract
series in our
Video Presentations section.