Material Matters

As frequent readers have heard from me ad nauseam, one of the key elements of cataract surgery is implantation of the intraocular lens implant. It not only makes the eye overall more stable, but it is necessary for all who don’t view “coke bottle glasses” as fashionable.

Despite our personal preferences as ophthalmologists for our favorite lenses, there are quite a few intraocular lens manufacturers in the world. Not all lenses are approved by the US FDA, so it’s not a complete free-for-all for eye surgeons to pick their personal pet implants. Many IOLs are classified by their polarity and interactions with water: some are hydrophilic and some are hydrophobic. In general, though there are a lot of different lenses and each particular case is unique, hydrophilic lenses do have a bit of a drawback compared to hydrophobic lenses. Hydrophilic lenses have a higher tendency to opacify over time in the eye. If a lens in someone’s eye clouds over as the years go by, it often makes vision worse, which often means another eye surgery is needed. Obviously, if that happens, the patient is not happy or well served, and, as I see it, we have failed to achieve the primary goals of our profession.

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