The TECNIS Symfony®: a revolutionary new IOL that lets you see like you were young again – Carlsbad cataract treatment
Cataracts are extremely common. This condition affects more than 17% of American adults over 40, and is a leading cause of blindness worldwide. In people with cataracts, the eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy and opaque, so that the patient cannot see through it. The development of a surgical technique to correct cataracts revolutionized the treatment of this condition, offering people with cataracts the chance to see again. In order to treat cataracts, the surgeon removes the damaged lens, and replaces it with an artificial lens, known as an intraocular lens (IOL).
The technology of IOLs has advanced dramatically from the first monofocal lenses. In 2016, a revolutionary new type of IOL was approved by the FDA. It’s an extended depth-of-focus IOL called the TECNIS Symfony®. This lens offers cataract patients excellent vision and freedom from glasses.
What does extended depth-of-focus mean?
In order to see clearly, the focal point of light must fall directly on the retina, the light-sensing tissue at the back of the eye. The eye’s natural lens (located just behind the pupil) is able to change shape in order to change its focal point. This allows you to see clearly when you look at objects at different distances. The lens changes shape when you change what you’re looking at, to keep the light focused on the retina. This process is called accommodation.
However, most implanted lenses are not able to do this. A traditional IOL is monofocal, meaning that it has a single focal point. This is usually set for clear distance vision. In order to see at a closer distance (for instance, for reading), the patient needs to wear glasses.
The TECNIS Symfony® was the first IOL with an extended depth-of-focus to be FDA-approved. This means that, rather than having a single discrete focal point, the lens is able to focus light from a range of distances clearly onto the retina. This allows for good vision from near to far distances. For many patients, the extended depth-of-focus allows them to be completely free from the need for corrective lenses. Some patients do use glasses when doing detailed up-close work (such as making art or reading fine print), but not for most daily activities, such as normal reading and driving.
How is this different from a multifocal IOL?
A multifocal IOL, such as the TECNIS/MF™, has a few discrete focal points (usually between three and five). Objects located in between the focal points of the lens may not be seen clearly. For example, it may be difficult to read text on the computer screen from one’s usual distance, but moving a bit closer to the screen brings it into focus.
With a multifocal lens, the brain must undergo a process of adaptation in order to see well through all of the focal points. Although distance vision is clear immediately after surgery, the brain must learn how to switch between the focal points in order to see closer up. For some people, this process is unpleasant.
With the TECNIS Symfony®, there is an extended depth-of-focus, meaning a range in which vision will be clear. Instead of getting used to having several discrete focal points, the vision will be clear within the entire range. The lens is engineered so that this range will encompass the usual range of distances at which patients would want to see, from near to far. Because of this, most patients don’t need glasses after surgery. 85% of patients who receive Symfony® lenses report that they wear glasses only a little bit of the time or not at all.
Can the TECNIS Symfony® also treat presbyopia?
Presbyopia is the age-related stiffening of the eye’s natural lens. It decreases the lens’s ability to accommodate, meaning that the lens cannot change its focal distance as well. This results in patients needing reading glasses, because the lens is unable to change shape enough to focus up close. Presbyopia happens to everyone at some point, usually beginning around age 40.
Although there is no way to restore the eye’s natural lens to its youthful ability to accommodate, those whose lenses need to be replaced because of cataracts have an opportunity to reverse their presbyopia as well. With TECNIS Symfony® IOLs, patients who have needed reading glasses for years may be able to be free of them.
Will I be able to see well at night?
TECNIS Symfony® IOLs include state-of-the-art technology that helps to improve the way that the lenses transmit light. This helps to improve their visual performance. Unlike many other IOLs, the TECNIS Symfony® IOLs continue to perform well in low-light conditions, with fewer visual artifacts (such as glare, halos, and starbursts around lights at night) than with other IOLs.
The technology of Symfony® IOLs also enhances image contrast, providing patients with sharper, clearer vision. It also reduces a problem called chromatic aberration, in which light of different colors is affected differently by the lens. This gives patients sharper and better color vision.
What about astigmatism?
For patients with astigmatism, there is also a toric version of the Symfony® available. Astigmatism results from a curvature of the cornea that is slightly oval rather than round. This can distort the shapes of objects and can also lead to blurred vision. A toric lens corrects for this problem. For patients with astigmatism, this can allow them to become free of glasses. (With any non-toric IOL, a patient with a significant degree of astigmatism may still require corrective lenses after IOL implantation.)
Interested in learning more about the revolutionary TECNIS Symfony®?
With its many benefits, the TECNIS Symfony® has quickly become one of the most popular choices among our Carlsbad cataract treatment patients. If you want to learn more about this lens and whether it might be right for you, come in for a consultation. Your eye surgeon will discuss your options with you, and will make recommendations based on your eyes and your goals. To schedule your appointment, please contact our office.