In some patients after cataract surgery, the membrane that holds the intraocular lens in place can become wrinkled or cloudy with scar tissue. This is called Posterior Capsular Opacification (PCO), or an “after cataract,” and is commonly seen after cataract surgery. If posterior capsular opacification develops, the patient typically notices the onset of blurred vision. PCO is easily treated with the YAG laser. The YAG laser is a “cold” laser which disrupts the scar tissue behind the implant, thus opening up the visual pathway for more light to enter the eye. Because there are no nerve endings in the scar tissue, there is no pain associated with the procedure. Side effects after the treatment include the presence of floaters which typically resolve after several days. YAG laser treatments are covered as a medical necessity under all insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid.
If further LASIK or PRK is necessary for any of our Custom Cataract Surgery patients, Dr. Schulze will waive his professional fees. Thus, if you should require PRK or LASIK after Custom Cataract Surgery to fine tune your vision, you will only be responsible for the facility fee to the surgery center that covers the operating expenses for the excimer laser, which amounts to a 50% discount of our standard combined fees for LASIK and PRK. For those patients who choose to have Basic Cataract Surgery, understand that additional refractive procedures are NOT covered and are your financial responsibility.
Remember that all of the options presented above represent efforts to reduce your dependence upon glasses and contact lenses. None of these options can guarantee you to throw your glasses away. Talk with us about which of these options might be best for you.
Although the techniques we use to measure the eye and calculate IOL powers are state of the art, they are not perfect. We make every effort to ensure that our patients’ refractive results are as intended. Because of some inherent limitations of these technologies, a small percentage of patients may have an unpredictable outcome after surgery, especially in patients who have had prior refractive surgery such as RK, LASIK, or PRK. A way to think of this is to imagine that some patients may under- or over-respond to surgery, despite our computer calculations and measurements prior to surgery. Although these are not common, under or over responses to surgery are a statistical inevitability and the possibility that you may be one of these over or under responders must be taken into account as you consider surgery.
Regardless of the option you choose for rehabilitating your vision after cataract surgery or refractive lens exchange, understand that further surgery such as PRK, LASIK, and/or intraocular lens exchange may be required to fine tune your vision afterwards.
Refractive Lens Exchange is a procedure that utilizes all of the available technologies we have for cataract and refractive surgery to improve vision and lessen dependence upon glasses and contact lenses in people who do not have cataracts. All of the options discussed above, including traditional monofocal lenses for binocular distance vision, monovision, toric intraocular lenses for correction of astigmatism, limbal relaxing incisions, and multifocal intraocular lenses, can be used to achieve decreased dependence upon glasses and contact lenses.
Multifocal intraocular lenses offer excellent potential for reducing your dependence on glasses and contact. Our practice has extensive experience with multifocal lenses dating back to 1997. Multifocal lenses work by providing simultaneous near and distance vision in each eye, thus allowing both eyes to work together for both distance and near.
The Tecnis Multifocal lens: the Tecnis Multifocal provides excellent distance and near vision. It is now available in three different models, depending upon your specific needs for near vision.
Weaknesses inherent in all multifocal IOL designs include aberrations that can cause glare and halos, especially at night. About 1 in 20 patients describe the glare and halos with multifocal lenses as “severe.” Multifocal lenses work best with binocular vision (both eyes working together), therefore, you will not get the full effect of multifocal vision until you have had surgery on your second eye.
Although multifocal lenses may represent your best option for reducing your dependence upon glasses and contact lenses, it is impossible to guarantee that you will be able to throw away your glasses. Reading glasses, for instance, will always magnify near objects, thus making them easier to see, even with a multifocal lens in place. Because Medicare and private insurance companies consider multifocal lenses to represent a luxury technology that is not absolutely necessary for good vision, these lenses are not covered by Medicare and insurance.
In order to understand Custom Astigmatic Surgery, it is important to have a good understanding of astigmatism. An eye without astigmatism is essentially round, like a basketball. Eyes with astigmatism have a shape more like the surface of a football or an egg. You can imagine that eyes with refracting surfaces shaped like footballs do not focus light very well!
If astigmatism is not corrected, even patients with clear lenses after cataract surgery will have blurred vision. Traditionally, astigmatism is corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. For those patients with cataracts and astigmatism who desire increased freedom from glasses, there are several surgical methods for correcting astigmatism:
Placement of a Toric (Astigmatism Correcting) Intraocular Lens: this procedure involves the use of a more expensive type of implant (a toric IOL) that corrects for astigmatism. Rarely, toric implants can rotate out of position after surgery, requiring surgical repositioning.
Limbal Relaxing Incisions (LRI): these are made at the time of cataract surgery with a diamond. As they heal, they flatten the steep part of the cornea and steepen the flat part of the cornea, thus making the cornea more round.
Excimer laser refractive surgery (PRK and LASIK): PRK and LASIK are the most precise methods for reducing astigmatism. Since most cases of astigmatism with cataracts can be easily managed with LRI’s and toric IOL’s, excimer laser refractive surgery is rarely necessary after cataract surgery.
Prior to surgery for astigmatism, a number of special measurements are taken, and extra care is needed in the planning for and execution of surgery. Custom Astigmatic Surgery will be used to target either distance vision in both eyes or monovision, depending upon your goals. Because astigmatism can otherwise be easily corrected for with eyeglasses, surgical correction of astigmatism is considered by Medicare and private insurance carriers to be a cosmetic or luxury procedure and is not covered by insurance.
With Custom Monovision, we aim for distance vision in the dominant eye. We aim for reading vision in the non-dominant eye by making it nearsighted. Having one eye set for distance and one eye set for near increases the number of things that you can do without glasses. This approach after cataract surgery or refractive lens exchange works best in patients who have previously had success wearing contact lenses for monovision.
The disadvantage with monovision is that both eyes may no longer work together for distance or near vision. Some patients, realizing the advantage of increased freedom from glasses and contacts, tolerate this disparity extremely well. Other patients are unable to tolerate the imbalance between the two eyes. The goal with Custom Monovision is to see well enough to pass a driver’s test and read a newspaper without glasses.
Our Custom Distance program involves the use of monofocal, aspheric intraocular lenses set for distance vision in each eye. Extra testing with our Refractive Services Packages helps us customize our choice of implant to your eye. By measuring your spherical aberration prior to surgery, aspheric lenses can often be used to reduce your aberration profile after surgery. The goal with Custom Distance is to see well enough with each eye to pass a driver’s license test without glasses.
In order to assess your suitability for Custom Cataract Surgery, a battery of tests is performed. We call these tests our Refractive Services Package, which involves screening tests not covered by insurance or Medicare. These screening tests include corneal topography with both the Atlas and Pentacam topographers, specular microscopy, and assessment of macular function with OCT. Although not covered by insurance, the cost of testing is similar to what you might spend on a good pair of eyeglasses.
There are four basic options we offer for our Custom Cataract Surgery patients: Custom Distance, Custom Monovision, Custom Astigmatic (Toric), and Custom Multifocal. Understand that special cases, especially those patients with a history of prior refractive surgery such as LASIK, PRK, or RK, may require the use of more than one technology or procedure in order to obtain the desired result. Dr. Schulze will work with you to help you make the best choice for you.
The goal of Custom Cataract Surgery is to reduce or eliminate your dependence on eyeglasses and contact lenses. Custom Cataract Surgery has as its basis the same procedures used in traditional cataract surgery, but involves extra testing, materials, and procedures to improve the patient’s chances of becoming less dependent on glasses. The additional procedures involved with Custom Cataract Surgery are considered to be in the category of luxury or cosmetic procedures, and hence are not covered by insurance.