Cataracts Replaced With New Flexible Lenses

From Parade Magazine July 2004

An estimated 20.8 million American adults have cataracts – progressive clouding of the lens that can lead to blindness. Treatment is a brief, nearly risk-free surgical procedure that breaks up the cataract, removes the pieces and implants an artificial lens made of biocompatible plastic. Compared with the eye’s original lens, this one is rigid. While patients end up with improved distance vision, they usually still need reading glasses.

The new flexible “accommodative” Crystalens® is designed to mimic the seamless focusing of a 20-year-old,” says Dr. Neil Martin of Chevy Chase, MD. “It works with the eye’s own muscles to change focus naturally from reading to computer to distance.” It costs around $5,000 an eye.

Today’s new lenses seem more natural.

Some eye surgeons offer the Crystalens® to improve general vision – as with aging eyes – but this is not covered by insurance. (It’s only covered to correct cataracts, and then insurance only pays about half.) Others question whether getting rid of glasses or contacts justifies the risks of surgery inside the eye, though complications are rare.