As people age, blurry vision because of cloudiness in the natural lens is extremely common. As the natural lens becomes cloudy, it is known as a cataract. Surgical removal of cataracts is one of the most common operations in the world. The cloudy natural lens is replaced with a clear acrylic lens and vision is restored
Until recently, patients needed to pick the distance at which they wanted the best vision without glasses. Either distance or near reading vision without glasses was the only option. All other distances needed glasses to see clearly.
With the advent of multifocal intraocular lenses several years ago, patients have had the ability to be less dependent on glasses for a wider range of distances. These lenses are not perfect but dramatically reduce the need for constant glasses wear. Earlier models of these lenses were associated with glare at night, reduced vision in dim light, and reduced vision at computer distances.
In Europe, over the past several years a new “Trifocal” lens design was introduced by Alcon Laboratories. In clinical trials, the success rate was high. Over 99% of patients are satisfied with this new technology. Although the three main problems of glare, dim light, and computer-distance vision are still problems with this lens, the percentage and degree of severity are lessened. Because of these successes, the US Food and Drug Administration approved this lens in the United States in 2019.
The PanOptix® lens utilizes the Alcon Acrysof intraocular lens platform, but with a new proprietary optical technology known as “Enlighten”. This advanced trifocal technology design optimizes intermediate (computer) vision without compromising exceptional near (reading) and distance vision.
Over 88% of light is transmitted through the lens. With only about 12% of light lost in transmission, better vision in lower light is accomplished. Halos around lights at night are still a concern but are fainter and less bothersome than with other lenses.
Although the PanOptix® lens doesn’t fully eliminate the need for glasses, over 90% of patients can see nearly 20/20 at all ranges of vision. This is a remarkable improvement over previous designs. Patients interested in decreasing their need for glasses at many ranges of vision and who can tolerate some degrees of imperfect vision should consider investigating this lens. Modern cataract surgery is safe and provides many more options for improved vision, patients should carefully consider their options in this “once in a lifetime” decision.