John C Hagan III, MD, FACS, FAAO  
Kansas City, MO

Specialties: Ophthalmology

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The Best IOL for 2022  RXSight Light Adjusted Lens

Jun 08, 2022 - 0 comments

Consider ALL the Options Before Your Cataract Surgery: Working Through What’s Best For You  2022 Update PERHAPS THE BEST IOL EVER HAS JUST BEEN RELEASED RXSIGHT LIGHT ADJUSTABLE LENS (LAS)

PLEASE READ THE SECTION BELOW FIRST, THEN COME BACK TO FIRST PARAGRAPH:  I started doing intraocular surgery in 1972 and was doing surgery without intraocular lens (IOLS0 when I first started, IOLs were experimental and a special consent had to be used. In 2022 if you did not put an IOL in the eye when the cataract was removed you likely commit malpractice. There have been a steady stream of improvements: anterior chamber rigid IOLs, with intracapsular extraction, posterior chamber IOLs with extracapsular extraction, small incision, no stitch flexible IOLs with phacoemulsification,  toric IOLs for astigmatism, multifocal IOLs for clear vision at all distances.

The newly released RxSight Light Adjusted Lens is the biggest improvement I have seen in 4 decades of cataract surgery. If I needed cataract surgery (which I don’t now) I would choose this LAL IOL.  It is a silastic posterior chamber IOL in which the power can be adjust several times AFTER the surgery to fine tune the result, or if the patient changes their mind about where they would like to see best without glasses, it also corrects for astigmatism. Now (June 2022) most surgeons are just starting to use this IOL. I think it will become by far the preferred IOL over the coming years. It is considered a ‘premium’ IOL and insurance and Medicare do not cover the extra features. Likely at this time the average will be about $1000 US over what insurance pays for standard aspheric monofocal Lens. Check out their website:  https://www.rxsight.com/us   I do not have a financial interest in this company nor was I paid anything to endorse it.

Consider ALL the Options Before Your Cataract Surgery: Working Through What’s Best For You

John C. Hagan, MD, Fellow American Academy of Ophthalmology, Fellow American College of Surgeons.

Many decisions have to be made before having cataract surgery. The first is whether you need the surgery or not. Assuming you have made the decision to have surgery this is a discussion of the many options and choices you have.  THERE IS NO “BEST” TYPE OF PHACOEMULSIFICATION CATARACT SURGERY AND NO “BEST” INTRAOCULAR LENS. NO TARGETED POST SURGERY REFRACTIVE ERROR IS FOR EVERYONE. THESE DECISIONS WILL VARY FROM PERSON TO PERSON AND MUST BE INDIVIDUALIZED.  

We all have different visual needs.  Cataract surgery will be done earlier on a person needing perfect vision in all lighting circumstances, think airline pilots, truck drivers and heart surgeons. Surgery is done much later, if at all, on the very, very elderly, functioning combative or uncooperative dementia patients, those with terminal illnesses. In general cataract surgery is generally offered when a person is experiencing moderate or severe visual difficulties in activities they enjoy or need to do and the cataract is the sole or main cause.

Although the person is usually the one that makes the determination about how much of a problem his/her vision is in some cases surgery is strongly recommended by the ophthalmologist, optometrist or family.  Examples include inability to drive safely or legally; difficulty seeing the inside of the eye, major progressive physical or psychiatric disease, and if center of the cataract is getting “rock hard” (so called ‘brunescent or brown/black cataract) or could start to break up in the eye (so called ‘too ripe’).

Assuming cataract surgery is appropriate, the decisions that must be made include: which eye to operate on first, what type of IOL to insert, desired-targeted post-operative refractive error, how much glasses will need to be worn post operatively [NOTE: glasses are almost uniformly needed post operatively and are usually modern progressive bifocals]  SOME OF THE TIME a small % of people after cataract surgery can function without glasses or with inexpensive over the counter reading glasses.  Equally important is the choice of surgeon-ophthalmologist (Eye MD: a physician Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathy that has been to medical school, medical-surgical residency and in many cases taken a special surgical fellowship.  Ophthalmologists provide a complete range of medical and surgical services.  Eye MDs must be distinguished from non-physician optometrists (OD) and opticians).

This discussion is not meant to be encyclopedic nor to give you “the answer.” As stated previous “the correct” answer will be different for different people. Informative is based on the most common questions posted on the American Academy of Ophthalmology MedHelp Eye Forums.

1. Where there is a difference of more than 1.50 diopters between the eyes post operatively glasses are often difficult or impossible to adjust to. The condition is called "aneisometrophia".  Part of the problem is due to the difference in image size each eye has with the glasses on; this is called “aneisokonia”.  Seek out Eye Forum posts on this problem by JodieJ. She had this problem post operatively and she clearly outlines her struggle and eventual success.
2. With modern cataract surgery not only do we try and make the person see better but we want the best possible vision without glasses and the two eyes to "work together" comfortably.  Tests are done preoperatively to help pick the proper IOL power to leave a targeted post op refractive error. This is not an exact science and the margin of error is +/- 0.50 but INCREASES with high myopia (long eye) or high hyperopia (short eye), eyes with previous RK, lasik, injury or additional eye diseases.
3. Typically the targeted post op refraction is between 0.00 (not needing glasses for distances of 20 feet (6 meter) or more) and -3.00 which has great vision for tiny detail at reading distance 13-14 inches.  Any difference of greater than 1.50 diopter post op may have trouble with glasses (some people tolerate much larger numbers but you never know). The range of relatively clear vision without glasses on is called “depth of focus” and will vary from person to person based on things like pupil size and corneal structure.
4. Some people that are highly myopic or highly hyperopic that do not have cataracts elect to have the lens of the eye removed (same technique as cataract surgery) and an intra-ocular lens (IOL) put in to eliminate thick glasses and improve vision without glasses. It is called "clear lensectomy" or "clear lens cataract surgery” or “refractive lens exchange”. This is done to reduce the thickness of their glasses or make them much more glasses independent.  We are not discussing whether that is appropriate surgery. The IOL and refractive problems are the same as those having cataract surgery.
5. A refractive error that makes some people happy post cataract surgery and often enables them to function without glasses for many things is 0.00 in the dominant eye for distance and -1.25 or -1.50 for the "reading eye." In good lighting they often can read without glasses. With glasses (the RX would be 0.00 distance eye -1.50 near eye and reading add of +3.00 diopters and the type glasses a no line bifocal) The glasses would be worn when best binocular vision is needed e.g. driving especially at night, sporting events or sports participation (gives the best depth perception) and prolonged reading or computer use. (This is called mini-monovision with distance bias)  If a person wanted to shift the clearest vision to intermediate and near (example some accountants, engraver, graphic design artist) the numbers change: -1.25 intermediate vision and -2.75 or -3.00 for reading/near eye. The glasses RX would be -1.25 and -2.75 with +3.00 add in progressive bifocals.
6.   If the person having surgery has astigmatism (aspherical or not round cornea) then the glasses RX will need a "cylinder" lens (second and third part of RX indicated by “cylinder and axis).  The vision without glasses will be less clear due to uncorrected astigmatism.   Assuming our models listed in above example and 1.00 diopters of corneal astigmatism the mini-monofocal distance bias will be 0.00 +1.00 axis 180 and the intermediate/near bias eye will be -1.25 +1.00 axis 180 and a +3.00 add in no line bifocals. This is more blurry vision than 0.00 at distance or -1.25 for near/intermediate.
7. NOTE: glasses can be written in PLUS CYLINDERS OR MINUS CYLINDERS (you can tell which by whether the sign in front of the cylinder number is + (plus) or – (minus) The two formula look very different and prescriptions in plus cylinder cannot be compared with minus cylinder.  Think about your body weight: your weight numbers will look very different whether it is recorded as pounds or kilograms since 1 kg = 2.2 lbs.  A discussion of this subject and the formula for changing plus cylinder to minus cylinders or vice versa is available at   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyeglass_prescription
8.  Correction of astigmatism at the time of cataract surgery is desirable.  There are different ways to accomplish this; some are simple while others complex. Some will not generate extra surgical or IOL fees but others will:  placement of incision along steep axis of cornea-make incision larger-use more steroid drops; surgical or laser corneal relaxing incisions; toric IOLs or toric mutifocal IOLs; rounding the cornea at time of surgery with  femtosecond laser; post operatively using  lasik surgery to remove residual astigmatism.
9. In cases where one eye has a cataract that is symptomatic and causing problems with important functions such as driving, reading, recognizing faces, glare avoidance, etc.  but the other eye has no cataract or a cataract that is small and not troublesome in people with large refractive errors special attention needs to be made to choice of IOL.   If targeting of the patient/surgeon desired refractive error post operatively generates a difference in the two eyes greater than 1.50 diopters, the person should know it may be difficult to wear glasses comfortably and/or glasses (no line bifocals usually) plus a contact lens on the un-operated eye. Or  lasik or other post-operative refractive surgery may need to be done on the un-operated or operated eye to help them work together.
10. The problems outlined in #9 above may require surgery on the “other” eye to re-establish the ability of the eyes to work together with and without glasses. This can be true even if the cataract is small or even non-cataractous.  
11. So called “Premium” IOLs (toric, multi-focal and accommodating) are used to reduce dependence on glasses. For almost all people they do not eliminate glasses 100% of the time. Even people that consider themselves “not needing glasses after cataract surgery” often wear glasses for special purposes such as night driving and prolonged reading or computer use. Premium IOLs are more expensive, have a greater chance of complication (although in the hands of an experienced ophthalmic surgery the risk is small), and produce unwanted glare and scattered light (dysphotopsia) more than modern aspheric monofocal IOLs.  
12. It is also fair to say that some ophthalmology and optometry offices exert effort to encourage people to “upgrade’ from monofocal IOLs to “premium” IOLs. In sales this is not called “upgrading” but “upselling”. Also it’s important to know that some optometrists receive part of the surgical payment for cataract/IOL surgery, this is known as “co-management”.  Premium IOLs are not better than monofocal IOLs; they are not designed to make everyone 100% glasses independent all the time. Most ophthalmologists and optometrists do present a fair discussion of each type of IOL and let an informed patient make the choice that suits them best.
13. While cataract/IOL surgery is the most common type of surgery done on adults and has a very low complication rate it is not risk free NO SURGERY IS RISK FREE; THAT’S WHY YOU READ (or have read to you) AND SIGN A SURGICAL CONSENT FORM THAT INFORMS YOU OF THE DIAGNOSIS, YOUR OPTIONS AND POSSIBLE RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS. These risks cannot be entirely eliminated. No surgery is entirely “routine and risk free”   Think about driving an automobile. Driving is “routine” to most of us. Yet everyday there are people injured or killed in automobiles. We continue to drive because, with care, the risk is relatively low. Think of cataract surgery the same way.
14. In most all cases cataract surgery is elective. You can take your time and make these important decisions. There is nothing wrong with seeking a second opinion from a different ophthalmic surgeon. You can also access the many helpful discussions on these topics at the two AAO Medhelp Eye Forums by using the search feature or looking in the archives.

15. This information is not meant to give you specific recommendations. This posting is for information purposes only. You should rely on your own multi-source research and discussions with your ophthalmologist, optometrist and personal physician.
16.  Coming on line are light adjusted IOLs where the IOL RX can be changed post op. The toric IOL has proved popular and in the hands of an experienced surgeon additional surgery to rotate occurs about 1.1% of the time.  All "premieum" IOLs continue to be expensive, have compromised night vision, require glasses some of the time to often and have higher rates of dissatisfaction than monofocal or toric IOLs.  The value of add on's like ORA technology, femtoscecond laser have yet to be demonstrated.

Original MedHelp Blog  - September 2019

Will refractive surgery such as LASIK keep me out of glasses all my life

Dec 31, 2020 - 0 comments

This is extremely important if both eyes are corrected to best possible distance vision (6 meters) and your glasses RX is 0.00 you will  probably be happy until your mid-40's. Then due to the effects of age (presbyopia) you will start to need reading glasses and as you age they will need to be made stronger and stronger. By age 50 you will likely need one pair for reading and a second pair of different strength for shopping and computer. By age 60 you will likely be in no line multifocial glasses all the time but still have good vision at 6 meters or farther. You surgeon should have review this with you if he/she is being honest. In our practice we make sure patients understand this, if they are okay and understand they will glasses 'down the line" AND THEY ARE NEAR 40 OR OLDER we often correct the dominant eye to 0.00 but leave the non-dominant eye -1.00 or -1.25  This is called mini-monovision and can keep the person out of reading glasses till about age 50. Of course the person uses one eye more for distance and the other more for reading. BE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THIS AND DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR EYE MD OPHTHALMOLOGIST, THE CLOSER YOU ARE TO 40 THE MORE IMPORTANT THIS IS.


Apr 16, 2018 - 43 comments

This material is from the April 1, 2018 issue of Ophthalmology Times medical newsletter. The title of the article is "Migraine Pain More Than A Headache" and is based on The Hoyt Lecture given at the 2017 meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology by Kathleen B. Digre, MD a neuro-ophthalmologist from University of Utah.

Patients with various forms of migraine have an increased incidence of "visual snow".  NOTE VIP: "The proposed criteria for visual snow that were developed include: dynamic, continuous dots in the visual field for at least three months and the presence of at least two other visual phenomena and palinopsia, enhanced entoptic phenomenon, and at least one of the following: excessive floaters, or 'self-light of the eye' or photopsia, photophobia and nyctalopia.  

As many as 59% of migrane patients may have visual snow. And 87% of visual snow patients have some problem with headaches. 25% of people have had visual snow since childhood.

Treatment is often not necessary as many people learn to ignore the symptoms. Medications that sometimes help: lamotrigine, nortriptyline,carbamazepine and sertraline.  Sometimes glasses with blue/yellow filters or FL-41 spectrum filters are helpful.  The complete article might be available for viewing on the Ophthalmology Times website previous issues this is Volume 43 #6  4/1/18

2018 General Information on Dry Eyes-Now known as Ocular Surface Disorder

Mar 10, 2018 - 64 comments

Dry eyes are one of the most common conditions seen in the practice of ophthalmology. Collectively dry eyes probably cause more eye discomfort and irritation than any other condition.  The term “dry eyes” will never go way but it’s misleading.  Eye MD ophthalmologists now call this “ocular surface disorder” (OSD) and sometimes “tears dysfunction syndrome.”  There are two forms of the problem. In the first (called by Eye MDs ‘aqueous deficiency’) there are no tears or few tears; it is often associated with dry mouth and is the most severe form. In the second form, the eyes water constantly or often. It is called ‘lipid deficiency’ and is caused by eyelid oil gland (Meibomian Gland Disorder or MGD) problems.  In the first form the eye doesn’t make enough tears; in the second form the tears are of poor quality.  There are many tests for OSD, some of them quite expensive, but the diagnosis can usually be made by a careful symptom review and examination of the eye and eyelids. For persistent problems a complete medical eye examination by an Eye MD ophthalmologist is needed plus telling the Eye MD about your symptoms and how troublesome you find them. Self education on OSD is extremely important.

         If you are menopausal or post-menopausal be sure you and your gynecologist maintain optimal hormonal balance. (Many women with dry eyes have dry mouth and dry vaginal canal). If you have joint pain have that evaluated to be sure you don't have Sjorgren's syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis. You might review your medications with your ophthalmologist. Almost any cold, allergy or sinus medicine can cause or aggravate dry eye and mouth. Oil and debris along the eyelids (blepharitis) can aggravate dry eyes. Blepharitis can also cause eyelid infections such as styes, blocked oil glands (chalazion) or eyelash loss and red eyes and eyelids.  Eye lid cleaners and wipes are very useful. They are non-prescription. The easiest to find, and among the best, are Ocusoft products:   http://www.ocusoft.com/ For recalcitrant cases the new prescription Avenova Eye https://avenova.com/ has worked extremely well.

OSD treatment usually begins with use of preserved and/or unpreserved artificial tears during the day and gels or lubricating ointments at bedtime. Environmental modification is important.  Don't belittle eye drops. They are not ‘all the same”. You would never walk into a restaurant and say “Bring many any type of food, it’s all the same.”  There are over 100 different brands of artificial tears and they can't all be lumped together. Sometimes one will find the perfect drop. That means you put the drop in and your eye becomes comfortable in 5-10 minutes and remains comfortable for at least 3-4 hours. If it stings or burns, write down the name on a list you keep and give it a failing grade. If it helps but only for an hour continue your search for one that lasts 3-4 hours; give it an average grade.   YOU MUST KEEP A LIST OF DROPS YOU HAVE TRIED AND HOW THEY WORKED OR DID NOT WORK FOR YOU.

Because the OSD problem is so prevalent the pharmaceutical companies are coming out with new products all the time. Some of the newest are Systane preserved and unpreserved, Optive, Blink, Soothe, and Retaine. Eye drops for dryness are classified as unpreserved drops (individual vials that must be used within 24-48 hrs.), preserved drops, gels and ointments. The unpreserved drops are more expensive and usually only help the small percentage of people that are really allergic to preservatives. Gels and ointments are normally used at night since regular artificial tears won’t last all night.  Ointments are messy and many people dislike them.  Be sure to try Nature’s Tear’s Eyemist a spray for dry eyes that works for many people. It is available without a prescription.  http://www.naturestears.com/

Tears may need to be used as often as 4-6 times/day.  House brand or generic eye drops may work for the mild forms but moderate or severe OSD usually requires newer brand names.  Omega 3, taken by mouth, has been shown to be helpful. Sources include fish oil (which some people have trouble tolerating), creel oil and flaxseed oil.  Environmental modification means not sleeping under a fan, not blowing air into the face (example in work station, cars, planes) and humidifying home and work and sleep areas during dry winter months.

Some activities aggravate both types of dry eyes because they cause the eye to blink less frequently. These include reading, use of any video screen (computer, iPad, iPhone, video games), watching TV, going to movies.  Discomfort can be helped a great deal by looking away from the screen and focusing on a distant object and blinking forcefully 8-10 times. Do this every 15 minutes during these activities. Because of the increasing amount of time young people are spending on computers/phones/tablets/videogaming there is an epidemic of dry eyes in young people: https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/studies-excess-screen-time-could-be-aging-kids-eyes-870691907947  (as an aside young people are also developing impaired hearing at a much younger age due to loud music via headphones/earbuds).

      Warm compresses are often helpful.  Hot washcloths may suffice but a much better way is with re-heatable, eye pads available at any drug store. They are relatively inexpensive and way more efficient that hot washcloths. Follow the directions carefully to prevent damage to the eye. Additional things that can help include a diet rich in fatty fish (e.g. salmon, sardines, etc.). Fish oil taken by mouth usually 2 to 4/day has been show to help some patients. Do not start with this many fish oil/day. Start one per day with a meal and every 2 weeks as another to the amount recommended on the bottle. Ask your physician before beginning fish oil.  In addition, there are non-prescription pills for dry eyes available at most major drug stores or by direct order from the companies. Thera-tears formula for dry eyes is probably the most widely used. You can use any search engine to pull up the websites of the companies that see these.

For people that exhaust all these first and second level treatments, whom are still moderately or severely symptomatic and/or who are using drops 4 or more times/day, they might consider Restasis or Xiidra.  These are not artificial tears but prescription eye drops that over a period of 4-6 months: 1. reduce inflammation on the surface of the eye and 2. promote the formation of more efficient, high quality tears.  It is important to realize the commitment one is making when considering these:  1. twice/day for the rest of your life (or until something better comes along) 2. waiting 4-6 months for them to start working 3. expense associated with them (although in the long run may be less expensive than purchasing brand name eye drops to use 4-6 times/day).    You can read about them on their websites:  https://www.restasis.com/  and https://www.xiidra.com/

This is sort of a personal testimonial. I do not receive any money from any drug company for anything.  My wife and I have moderately severe dry eyes. I have aqueous deficiency, classic ‘dry eyes” and my wife ‘lipid deficiency’.  When we did not respond to first and second level treatment we went on Restasis. After 3-4 months we saw some improvement and after 6 months were entirely comfortable with only occasional use of artificial tears. Both of us have been on Restasis over 5 years.  There is a way of using Restasis in non-preserved vials that can dramatically reduce the cost. This method does not work with the multi-drop Restasis bottle introduced the past year. We always ask for the non-preserved vials.  Xiidra is relatively new. They are advertising heavily now using Jennifer Aniston as spokesperson. It is not better than Restasis and in the testing phase in some areas was not as good as Restasis. The company is marketing that its full onset comes 4 months after starting drops whereas Restasis is 6 months. I have not used a great deal of Xiidra in my practice for several reasons:  1. when patients hear how well Restasis did for me and my wife they want to try it. 2. In the few cases I have tried it the patients did not like it and especially 3. when the Xiidra first refill discount cards and samples are exhausted the patients have found it way too expensive.  

New treatments also include pulsed laser to the surface of the eyelids https://www.reviewofophthalmology.com/article/intense-pulsed-light-for-treating-dry-eye  and heat/compression to the eyelids https://tearscience.com/lipiflow/   I do not have much experience with these but patients treated elsewhere have told me they are quite expensive and may or may not prove helpful.

      If you reach a point of exhausting all the above see an ophthalmologist that specializes in "Cornea and External Disease". This is their special area of expertise. A final new treatment that they can often do is “Autologist Platelete-rich plasma” therapy. This uses eyedrops made out of your blood products. (reference Ocular Surgery News: November 1, 2007 page 46 lead author Jorge Alio MD.

     While dry eyes-ocular surface disorder cannot be cured, it is a chronic problem, is can almost always be helped a great deal. The Eye MD can only do so much and much of the success of treatment is determined by the willingness of the patient to learn about the problem and systematically work towards relief of their symptoms.