Laser Eye Surgery vs lens replacement

Lens replacement surgery is most commonly used as a way to treat patients with cataracts. Over 300,000 people in Britain alone have the procedure each year.

Cataracts are generally an age-related condition that mostly affects people over 40, but it can occur in younger people. It appears as a clouding of the lens of the eye and causes vision to become hazy, oversensitive, dull, or in some other way impaired, depending on the type you have.

As cataracts can greatly affect an individual’s quality of life, cataract surgery was developed to remove the eye’s natural lens and replace it with an artificial one. Traditionally, this lens was simply clear Perspex, but as many older people also have other vision problems, lenses now come in many different forms and levels of focusing power.

This added ability to correct common refractive errors like myopia and hyperopia meant that artificial lenses or IOLs (intraocular lenses), quickly became an option for people without cataracts as a way to avoid glasses or contact lenses.

Like most surgeries, lens replacement has advanced over the years. Today, there are several types of artificial lenses, including multifocal lenses that work at two distances and accommodative lenses which move with the muscles within the eye.

Each come with their advantages and disadvantages depending on your requirements, but they all work on the same basis of implanting a foreign object into the eye, and therefore comes with the same high level of risk.

These risks are greater in number and have a much higher chance of occurring than those associated with Laser Eye Surgery. They include:

  • Blurry vision, glare, and halos
  • Infection or bleeding inside the eye
  • Increased eye pressure (ocular hypertension)
  • Dislocated lens
  • Droopy eyelid (ptosis)
  • Retinal detachment

As some people simply cannot tolerate contacts and were ineligible for treatments like LASIK, IOLs have long had their place in the world of vision correction. The procedure may come with its fair share of risks, but for those with high refractive errors, complications such as dry eyes, and/or presbyopia, it has offered a welcome alternative to a lifetime of glasses or contacts.

And today, lens replacement is still the best way to treat patients with cataracts. But for those considering it solely as a way of correcting their refractive error, it’s likely Laser Eye Surgery is now an option as the range has been extended significantly over the last ten years.

Even if you have dry eyes, a high prescription, or presbyopia, the fact is in 2017 — depending on the clinic you go to — up to 96 percent of patients are suitable for Laser Eye Surgery.

Previously, it could be worth the risk of having IOLs if you were unsuitable for Laser Eye Surgery. But with Laser Eye Surgery now well and truly on the cards, the choice is clear. Treatments like LASIK and ReLEx SMILE are less invasive, more effective, and come with a significantly lower risk of complications and side effects than artificial lenses.

Whether you’re told you’re a suitable candidate for such laser treatments can vary from clinic to clinic — due to differences in technology, techniques, surgeon expertise etc. So the only way of really knowing is to have a consultation.

Find out if you’re suitable for Laser Eye Surgery today by contacting one of our Patient Care Coordinators.