There have been great advances in the field of ophthalmology over the last fifty years. Among them is our ability to correct the cornea using a laser in order to eliminate patient’s dependence on glasses for distance and near vision. Cataract surgery has similarly evolved and today patients can resume their normal activities post-operatively and enjoy the benefits of clearer vision without depending on glasses.
As the population ages and due to a longer life expectancy than fifty years ago, age-related macular degeneration has become the leading cause of blindness in the developed world. Research has shown that blue light can damage retinal tissues and may be a risk factor in causing the progression of macular degeneration. Unfortunately, removing the crystalline lens due to a cataract significantly increases the amount of blue light reaching the retina, and the ultraviolet blocking intraocular lens implants do not filter any of this blue light energy.
I started using the Acrysof Natural Intraocular lens in 2003 because of mounting evidence of the importance of protecting the macula from blue light. This lens replaces both the UV and the blue light filtering characteristics of the crystalline lens that are lost following cataract surgery.
Based on what we know today, patients before and after cataract surgery benefit from wearing protective eyewear when outdoors in the sun. Balanced nutrition must also be encouraged since deficiencies of dietary anti-oxidants such as Vitamin A, E, and C accelerate the formation of cataracts and macular degeneration.
It is expected that patients of my generation will probably live to an average of 100 years. We are being subjected to increased levels of blue light in our environment: the increasing use of mercury halide and xenon lights, brighter illumination in the workplace, and a more active outdoor lifestyle on the golf course or tennis court.
To maintain healthy eyes, wearing of sunglasses, eating healthy and taking vitamin supplements as well as avoiding smoking have all been shown to be important. With cataract surgery, it is important to have an intraocular lens that will maintain the healthiness of our retina and protect from macular degeneration as we age.