Inside the eye, there is a clear lens made of protein. This lens helps to focus images clearly onto the retina (the tissue lining the inside of the eye) so that we see things in focus. This clear lens is flexible and changes shape to allow our eyes to see objects near and at a distance. As we age the flexible lens becomes more rigid, making it more difficult to see objects up close for a person that is neither nearsighted nor farsighted. This process of losing near vision is called presbyopia and usually occurs around the age of 45.

As we enter into our 50’s and 60’s, the clear lens also begins to become cloudy (opaque). When opacities in the lens begin to form, we say a patient has a cataract. This is generally a slow and gradual process, much as graying of the hair or the development of wrinkled skin is a gradual process.

Cataract formation (opacification of the lens) can alter your glasses prescription. It may require you to wear glasses when you previously did not require them. Or, it may allow you to see some things without your glasses that you could not see previously.

Eventually, this clouding of the lens will become significant enough that it begins to affect your vision. Most patients complain of glare, halos or a film over their vision. When cataracts interfere with a person’s ability to do the things they want and need to do, it is advised that the cataracts be removed by surgery.

In most instances, cataract surgery is a short, 10-15 minute surgery to remove the cloudy protein lens of the eye and to replace it with a clear plastic lens. The patient is usually awake, but sedated, during the procedure. To find out more about cataract surgery, please click on the link above.

Because the lens is being removed from the eye during surgery, it is important to place another lens into the eye. This implanted lens is called an intra-ocular lens implant (IOL) and is usually implanted at the time of cataract surgery. It is usually made of plastic and does not require any maintenance, rarely needs to be replaced and cannot be felt by the patient. There are two basic types of implants used: monofocal implants and multifocal implants. To find out more about these two types of implants, please click on the links above, or call your doctors at the Texas Vision & Laser Center.