What are the lens replacement risks?

Interview transcription:

We asked Alex Shortt about the risks associated with lens replacement

Interviewer: What are some of the risks of lens replacemen compared to other treatments that you offer?

Alex Shortt: Lens replacement surgery is a very low-risk procedure. There’s no such thing as a procedure that carries zero risks. The risks of lens exchange are the same as the risks of cataract surgery. One in 10,000 cases result in serious and permanent damage to vision – That’s a very low number. Still, it’s important we emphasize it because the consequences of a severe bleed or a severe infection in a patient who’s had lens exchange are profound. One in 10,000 patients that undergo a procedure has permanent, severe damage to their vision.

The risk of that happening in both eyes has been estimated at around one in 12 million. So vanishingly rare indeed, but it’s very important that we inform patients of that fact before surgery.

That’s probably the main thing people worry about and that we would worry about with lens exchange. There are a whole host of other less serious problems that can arise after lenses exchange such as the need to fine-tune the vision with a little bit of laser eye surgery. If the focus of the lens implants isn’t quite correct, we can adjust it with a little bit of laser eye surgery.

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Glares and Halos

Another side effect that patients need to be aware of with multifocal lens implants is glare and halos around lights at night time. If you haven’t told the patient about this beforehand, they will tell you very quickly because it’s quite a spectacular phenomenon. At night time for the first day or two after having these lens implants put in. When you look at a light, a car headlight or a streetlight, it’ll have a series of rings around it. And what you’re seeing is the different focal points of the lens.

Now, what happens is it takes a few days, sometimes it can take up to a few months, but the brain learns to use the focus of the lens and learns that these rings around lights are different focal points and you don’t see them all at once. That’s called neuroadaptation, and it’s well known and well understood. Eventually, these glares and halos around lights reduce to such a small level that they’re barely imperceptible.

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About the author

Mr Alex J. Shortt | Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

MB BCh MSc PhD FRCOphth PGDipCatRef

I’m Alex Shortt, a highly trained academic researcher and Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon based in London’s famous Harley Street medical district. I trained and worked as a consultant for 14 years at London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital. I specialise in advanced technologies for correcting vision, including cataract surgery, implantable contact lenses and laser vision correction.

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