Good news for cataract sufferers

The bad news is that about one in two Australians will develop cataracts before they reach their 70s; the good news is that cataract operations are generally quick and easy with about  250,000 being performed every year.

The other good news is that a trial of a new multifocal intraocular lens in Sydney is producing exciting results.

Cataract surgery is needed when the eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy and impairs vision. During the surgery, which takes about 10 minutes and involves just a few hours in hospital for most, an ultrasound device breaks up the cloudy lens into small pieces, these are removed via suction, and an artificial lens inserted

Dr Patrick Versace, an ophthalmologist at Vision Eye Institute, says there are about 200 lenses to choose from but only about 10 per cent are multifocal. 

“The benefit of a multifocal lens for a patient is they can see far to drive, to watch television, they can see a computer screen. And they can read their phone without being dependent on glasses, so it’s a huge benefit,” Dr Versace told

The Femtis lens has been trialled in Europe for 18 months with “compelling results”, he said.

“It’s showing a clear benefit in terms of the ability of the lens to be centred in the eye, in the required position and to be stable over time. And a trend towards more refractive predictability, in terms of the outcome for the patient.”

Lens selection is a really important part of the process as it dictates what your vision will be like after the surgery. The ‘right’ lens for you depends on what you want from the surgery and the guidance you get from your surgeon. If your aim is to never wear glasses again, there are several options, with advancements in the development of a multifocal lens adding extra choice.

The Vision Eye Institute explains that multifocal lenses might be the best option “as they have a number of focal points to give clear distance and near vision”. However, in some cases, patients opt to have monovision, where one replacement lens corrects distance vision and the other near vision. The result is that vision is generally excellent near and far.

I had cataract surgery about three years ago and my surgeon did not advise multifocal artificial lenses at that time. I opted for monovision and I’m delighted with the result. Distance glasses and reading glasses have been binned. I can’t say my golf has improved though.

Have you had cataract surgery? Were you pleased with the result? Did you opt for multifocal lenses?

Related articles:
Don’t ignore early signs of cataracts
How to keep your eyes young
Common medicine doing you harm

Written by Janelle Ward

Energetic and skilled editor and writer with expert knowledge of retirement, retirement income, superannuation and retirement planning.

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