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New Options in Cataract Treatment Customized for Individual’s Lifestyle

When 77-year-old Winston-Salem resident John Rogers failed his last driver’s license exam, he knew it was finally time to do something about the cataracts clouding his vision. Along with not being able to read small print, Rogers noticed that his depth perception was off and that driving at night had become extremely difficult.

“Headlights on cars were like laser beams in my eyeballs,” Rogers said. “The brightness was unbearable.”

Cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures in the United States, with more than 3 million surgeries performed each year. That number is expected to grow as the population ages and as new technologies become available that can significantly improve vision.

In January, the FDA approved two new intraocular lenses (IOLs) that can restore vision in people with cataracts. These artificial lenses, known as TECNIS Multifocal +2.75D and +3.25D IOLs, are implanted after a cataract has been removed. Having these new lens powers available enables a surgeon to customize a patient’s vision more to their lifestyle.

“While traditional monofocal IOLs were designed to restore distance vision, multifocal IOLs improve vision at multiple distances,” said Keith Walter, M.D., professor of ophthalmology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “John wanted to eliminate the need to wear glasses altogether and that’s what these new lenses have done for him.”

While both lenses correct distance vision, the +2.75D IOL lens is suited for people who favor activities done with intermediate vision, such as reading labels while grocery shopping. The +3.25D IOL lens is for those seeking to improve vision for activities at shorter reading distances, such as reading a tablet or other hand-held device. Both low add lenses extend the range of vision beyond the typical implant.

The new lenses are implanted by Walter using the FEMTO laser at Wake Forest Baptist Health - Davie Medical Center. Surgery is done on an outpatient basis and the improvement in vision occurs almost immediately.

Rogers chose the +2.75D IOL lens and said that colors have also doubled in their intensity from what they were before his surgery and that his depth perception has drastically improved. “Before everything was flat and now, everything stands out,” he said. “That’s the way it should be.”

The procedure, currently not covered by insurance, offers patients an option beyond basic cataract surgery. Rogers said he was extremely pleased that he decided to have cataract surgery and that he took the extra step of having the new lenses implanted. “Bottom line,” he said, “you have to think about what your eyes are worth.” 

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