New lens with extended range of vision could help patients with cataracts

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- This past July, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the new Tecnis Symfony intraocular lens, for the treatment of cataracts.

It’s the first in a new category of lenses, purported to provide a full range of continuous high-quality vision. Intraocular lenses are implanted in the eye, making them work much differently than contact lenses.

Kathi Cummings had the new lenses implanted into her eyes, and though she was not fully recovered at the time of this writing, she was happy with the result.

“My brother and my husband had the surgery at the same time, so we talk to each other and compare notes,” said Cummings. “It’s not uncommon to ask each other, 'hey have you seen red lately? What is that like?'”

Cataracts are a common condition, with almost four million cataract surgeries performed each year. That number is expected to increase. By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.

Dr. Kevin Waltz, an eye surgeon with Eye Surgeons of Indiana, has had the chance to work with and study the new Symfony lenses.

“We were part of the FDA trial for the lens. Actually we did some of the original work-- we did the original work in central american back in 2012.”

Dr. Waltz likes the Symfony lens for a number of reasons.

“The Symfony lens is a new extended-depth of focus lens,” said Dr. Waltz. “It’s very good for giving you distance vision and intermediate vision and near vision. You see everywhere with all the different focal points. You can see far away, straight ahead, when you’re walking.”

Trials of the Symfony also showed it can mitigate the effects of presbyopia and astigmatism, two common conditions in people with cataracts.

Surgery is done as an outpatient procedure. People who have worn glasses their entire lives now have the chance to see 20/20.

"Surprisingly, many patients hang onto their glasses for a couple of reasons,” said Dr. Waltz. They want to look familiar to their grandchildren and glasses hide bags under the eyes.”

For Cummings, it’s the vibrant colors which have come back by way of the Symfony lenses.

“I hadn’t noticed how yellowed the world had become. And that was my introduction to full color again,” she said.

For more on the Symfony lens, click here.

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