About My Intraocular Lenses, an Awesome Lasik Alternative

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    Aug 31, 2011 4:52 AM GMT
    I ran across some Lasik questions on the site and wanted to volunteer info about an option I got that a lot of people still don't know about.

    So, I had a very strong glasses prescription for nearsightedness and decided to investigate Lasik in 2007. I lived in AZ and got a consultation from a doctor named Schwartz who does eyesight correction for the pro sports teams in Phoenix. I figured if million dollar eyes were on the line, he was probably dependable. Turned out to be the best doctor of anything I've ever sat down with. Just very smart, genuine and takes his time to make sure you have all the info you need to make a great decision.

    Anyway, my prescription was strong and I just barely qualified for Lasik. This would have meant burning away a large section of my cornea for the correction and risking some extra halo affect. Not terrible, but I followed up on a suggestion by one of the other doctors in the office to ask about intraocular lenses. These are basically tiny lenses surgically placed within the eye. They rest over your pupil and the iris anchors them in place. I was quickly sold on the pros over lasik, the more I looked into them. While Lasik requires a permanent burn-in to the cornea, the lenses make no permanent physical changes to the eye. What this means is that they will last my lifetime if I want, but if a better technology ever comes along, I can swap them out for something new without much more than a half hour surgery.

    The biggest con was the cost, which was about double the price of Lasik. However, the other claimed benefits include higher quality vision than Lasik and even a side bonus of natural UV filtering from the lens materials (a nice thing if you're blue-eyed in AZ).

    When I got the surgery, it was pretty painless, but I believe the drug they gave me affects the ability to remember the surgery clearly. It felt like five minutes, but was probably closer to 25. It requires an extremely small incision, so it heals faster than the large cuts of Lasik. The vision correction was immediate and it healed in several days with some drugs applied for over a week.

    After both eyes were done, I tested at 20/15 vision and it really is the best resolution I've ever had. It's been about 4 years since I received the surgery and I haven't noticed any diminished effect. I can still see ridiculously far and read things farther away than most company. So, it's probably the best purchase I've made in my entire life and would do it over in a heartbeat.

    With all that said, I'm not dissing Lasik. It's a good option for a lot of people. Just want more people to know about intraocular lenses (phakic IOLs) since I've had such an awesome time with them and people always have a lot of questions whenever I tell them about it. Feel free to throw more Qs my way.
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    Aug 31, 2011 1:24 PM GMT
    Wow, very cool, thanks for sharing your story. I had heard about intraocular lenses on my local news, but was lead to believe they were still only in clinical trials.

    Did your doctor discuss any long-term effects of the lenses with you, particularly concerning aging? I was told by my doctor, that people who are very near-sighted actually "get better" as they age because the cornea hardens as they get older... So my near-sightedness will lessen, but I will require reading glasses instead. How will the intraocular lenses affect that process?

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    Aug 31, 2011 1:38 PM GMT
    Thanks for sharing this. Intraoccular lenses are actually not uncommon. When cataracts are removed, the original lens is always replaced with intraoccular lenses. I had cataracts taken care of in December 1998. It was amazing.

    Like you, I was so nearsighted that without glasses, I was legally blind. After the cataract surgeries, I was seeing 20/20 in the left eye and 20/15 in the right eye.

    I'm glad to know that they are now doing the lenses in place of Lasik.

    Congrats on your new vision.
  • aznmtl

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    Aug 31, 2011 2:06 PM GMT
    Awesome story! I have really bad eyes and a local doctor also suggested 4 years ago the interocular lenses instead of lasic surgery. I was sceptical about having the interocular lenses as well as having blood shot eyes and was quite worried about the consequences. I also wonder how they fair for sports? Your seem to have awesome results and now I'm reconsidering!!!! Thanks for sharing.
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    Aug 31, 2011 2:35 PM GMT
    PaulNKS saidThanks for sharing this. Intraoccular lenses are actually not uncommon. When cataracts are removed, the original lens is always replaced with intraoccular lenses. I had cataracts taken care of in December 1998. It was amazing.

    Like you, I was so nearsighted that without glasses, I was legally blind. After the cataract surgeries, I was seeing 20/20 in the left eye and 20/15 in the right eye.

    I'm glad to know that they are now doing the lenses in place of Lasik.

    Congrats on your new vision.

    My partner also had lens replacement surgery for his cataracts, and his new lenses were also made to correct his distant vision, for which he had been wearing glasses. Now he's 20/20 and needs no correction, except common reading glasses at times, but then only fairly weak ones.

    Last year I was told I'm getting cataracts, too, but still early for the surgery, which would be elective at this time, not yet corrective, an insurance consideration. But since my corrective prescription, like the OP, is too strong to make me a good Lasik candidate, lens replacement might be my solution, so that now I no longer dread that development of old age.

    In fact, several men who know my partner, and saw his great results, actually said that now they were looking forward to getting cataracts and losing their own glasses! LOL!
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    Aug 31, 2011 2:39 PM GMT
    I have perfect vision except for reading. Will it work for me?
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    Aug 31, 2011 3:00 PM GMT
    Scruffypup saidI have perfect vision except for reading. Will it work for me?

    I don't believe so, but check with a doctor that performs the procedure. The human lens changes it's shape to focus either close or distant, but the eye can't perform both tasks at once clearly. As we age our lens hardens and won't change focus anymore, hence the need for reading glasses after a certain age. An artificial replacement lens is like the lens in your eyeglasses, or your eye's own lens once it hardens: rigid and non-adjusting, providing only one fixed focus.

    If you had a near-focus lens implanted then I imagine it would be like always seeing everything through your reading glasses, with a loss of distant vision. Now a solution for contact lens wearers who need bifocals, like myself, is to have a reading contact in 1 eye, and a distant vision contact in the other.

    I experimented with that but rejected it as being a bit confusing, and it gave me headaches. Plus you lose some of your depth perception due to interference with your normal balanced stereo vision. So I'm not sure any doctor would offer this option for a permanent lens replacement, nor might you be happy with it.
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    Aug 31, 2011 11:16 PM GMT
    Interesting thing: an ad popped up in this thread for the same opthamologist who did my partner's cataract surgery just north of Fort Lauderdale. Apparently the software that matches thread topics to advertisers can also further target a local community. I'm sure this doctor's ad didn't appear to RJ members in California, for instance.
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    Sep 01, 2011 1:52 AM GMT
    spiffy saidDid your doctor discuss any long-term effects of the lenses with you, particularly concerning aging? I was told by my doctor, that people who are very near-sighted actually "get better" as they age because the cornea hardens as they get older... So my near-sightedness will lessen, but I will require reading glasses instead. How will the intraocular lenses affect that process?



    The only long term consequence that arose was the natural need for reading glasses in the future due to aging. They didn't talk about improvements due to the cornea changing. Unless that was dramatic, it wouldn't affect my vision anyway.

    Aznmtl:

    I would think they'd be excellent for sports, but I know my doctor also did Lasik for pro athletes as well. I've never had blood shot eyes. I was lucky enough to get my lenses in time for a trip to Italy. Being able to open my eyes in the Mediterranean and actually see was one of the coolest moments of having new eyes.

    I believe the version I got was a 2.0 from what they started with. They were made by Staar Surgical and go by the brand of Visian. You can hear their pitch here: http://www.visianinfo.com/

    I think eye correction is plausible for athletes if you go with a pro. Just checked and my doctor now has a testimonial from Grant Hill (and Ice-T, which is crazy): http://www.schwartzlaser.com/#grant-hill
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    Sep 01, 2011 2:48 AM GMT
    Sounds awesome! I totally would have done this if it was available 10 years ago. But I'm very happy with my lasik. I'm not sure about current lasik technology, but the long term side effects that still linger for me are very dry eyes in heavily air conditioned buildings, and halos/glare from lights at night. Other than that, my vision is pretty damn good and hasn't changed since the day I had my procedure.
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    Sep 01, 2011 5:06 AM GMT
    xrichx saidSounds awesome! I totally would have done this if it was available 10 years ago. But I'm very happy with my lasik. I'm not sure about current lasik technology, but the long term side effects that still linger for me are very dry eyes in heavily air conditioned buildings, and halos/glare from lights at night. Other than that, my vision is pretty damn good and hasn't changed since the day I had my procedure.


    Should say that I have slight halos in high contrast, but they're so minimal I forget they're there. Wish my prescription, the halos I faced with lasik were supposedly pretty significant. I forgot this until now, but another reason I opted for the IOLs was I like night driving and stars and wanted to err on the safe side for seeing both.

    With that said, I still think Lasik is a really good option for people. Corrected vision either way is pretty life changing.