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Des Moines Eye Surgeons
5901 Westown Parkway
Suite 200
West Des Moines, IA 50266

5901 Westown Parkway, Suite 200, West Des Moines, IA 50266

Frequently Asked Questions

An intraocular lens, commonly called an IOL, is a tiny, lightweight, clear-plastic disk, which is placed in the eye during cataract surgery to replace the eye’s natural lens.

The eye’s normally clear, natural lens allows light to pass through it and focus on the retina. When a cataract forms, the lens becomes cloudy and light can no longer pass freely through it. The only way to remove the cataract is to remove the lens itself.

Can I see without a lens?

No, the eye cannot focus properly without a lens. To restore focusing power after cataract surgery, cataract glasses, a contact lens or an intraocular lens must be substituted. Rarely, an IOL cannot be inserted, but at least 90 percent of the people who have cataract surgery have an intraocular lens implant.

What are the advantages of an IOL lens implant?

Unlike contact lenses which must be removed daily or periodically for cleaning, an IOL implant is permanent. And, unlike cataract glasses which magnify images, an IOL produces a normally-sized and shaped image on the retina, replacing the focusing power of the natural lens more closely than either cataract glasses or contact lenses.

What are the risks?

Today’s implants are quite safe. But with any surgery, complications can occur. There is always a possibility of hemorrhage, infection or vision loss during eye surgery. Your eye doctor will discuss potential complications with you.

How will an IOL affect my vision?

An IOL cannot adjust its focus for both close and distant vision as the eye’s natural lens does. With the help of an ultrasound test (an A-scan) and the computer, your ophthalmologist can determine the general focusing power of the IOL before surgery. Although distance vision is usually quite good, bifocal or reading glasses are often necessary for close work.

Most people experience a return of 20/40 vision good enough for a driver’s license shortly after surgery, but the results can never be guaranteed. Your postoperative vision depends on the health of the eye. If there are changes in the retina from aging or other conditions, vision will not be perfect even though the surgery was successfully performed.

What if I have astigmatism?

The traditional replacement lens implanted when a cataract is removed clears the vision, but cannot correct astigmatism. There have been recent advancements in cataract surgery to treat astigmatism, however. The AcrySof Toric Lens is a foldable, single piece lens that an eye surgeon implants during cataract surgery to replace the clouded lens. The unique design of the AcrySof Toric IOL makes it possible to reduce or eliminate corneal astigmatism and significantly improve uncorrected distance vision. The AcrySof Toric lens provides QUALITY distance vision, independent of eyeglasses and contact lenses. If freedom from eyeglasses for distance vision is important to you, this is your ideal option.

With advancements in cataract surgery, the new AcrySof Toric IOL makes it possible to reduce or even eliminate corneal astigmatism and significantly improve uncorrected distance vision allowing one the ability to be free of eyeglasses and contact lenses.

Where will the lens be placed?

An IOL is usually centered within the pupil either in front of or behind the iris. The iris is a colored ring of tissue that surrounds the pupil and expands or contracts to adjust to varying degrees of light.

The most popular placement site today is behind the iris in the posterior chamber where the eye’s natural lens is located. When removing the clouded lens, your ophthalmologist will leave behind the lens’ sack-like outer membrane or capsule. The intraocular lens is placed in the pocket formed by the emptied lens membrane and held in place by a pair of loops