Intraocular lenses, commonly called IOLs, may be one of the most important ophthalmic developments in the past 30 years. These tiny prescription lenses are placed inside the eye during cataract or Clear Lens Extraction And Replacement surgery (CLEAR), replacing the eye’s natural lens (called a cataract when it becomes clouded). Prior to the development of IOLs, cataract patients were forced to wear thick “coke bottle” glasses or contact lenses after the surgery. They were essentially blind without their glasses.
Today, patients receiving IOLs often enjoy the best vision of their lives. Thanks to sophisticated formulas used to calculate the corrective prescription power of the lens, the IOL not only replaces the need for thick glasses, it can also correct the eye’s existing refractive error.
There are two basic types of IOLs: foldable and hard. Foldable lenses are made of silicone or acrylic and can be rolled up and placed inside a tiny tube. The tube is inserted through a very small incision – less than 2.5 mm in length. Once inside the eye, the IOL gently unfolds. Hard plastic lenses are appropriate in certain circumstances determined by the surgeon. Since they cannot be folded, they are placed through a slightly larger incision.
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