Cataract surgery is the most common type of eye surgery performed worldwide. It involves removing the old hazy lens from the eye and replacing it with a new clear one. The lens is chosen based on the optics of the eye and the patient’s desired vision. Historically, once the lens was implanted, there was no way to alter its optical power. How the eye healed was the vision the patient received. Although modern techniques are very accurate, most patients require some level of correction to achieve their best vision at every distance after surgery. RxSight and their light adjustable lens are here to change that.
The Light Adjustable Lens (LAL) produced by RxSight is a light reactive silicone cataract lens implant FDA approved in 2017. It is the first of its kind and has the capacity to revolutionize modern cataract surgery. The difference between the LAL and standard cataract lenses is its ability to change its optical power after it has already been implanted in the eye.
The science behind the LAL’s ability to change its power involves specialized light reactive molecules called macromers contained within the lens. When these macromers are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light, they bind together in specific ways, causing a highly specific change in the shape of the lens. Altering the shape of the lens is what allows doctors to fine tune the prescription after cataract surgery. This process can be done up to 3 times, which allows the patient to literally test drive their vision and fine tune it in ways that were previously impossible.
The LAL is implanted into the eye using standard modern surgical techniques. This means the preoperative and surgical experiences remain unchanged for the patient. Where the process differs is in the postoperative care. As the LAL is UV sensitive, exposing your eyes to any level of UV light could in theory alter the shape of the lens. RxSight provides UV protecting clear and sunglasses for patients to wear full-time during the post-op period. Approximately 3 weeks post-surgery is when the patient can expect to receive their first light treatment. Once the prescription has been applied to the lens and the patient and doctor are satisfied with the results, a series of subsequent light treatments are performed to “lock-in” the prescription. Once the prescription is locked in, the patient may resume life as normal and further exposure to UV light will not affect the lens.
The LAL is pushing into uncharted territory, offering new levels of precision for patients undergoing cataract surgery. As revolutionary as it is, there are still some limitations, and not every patient will be a good candidate. Also, as this technology is quite new, the number of doctors offering this service is limited. RxSight offers a “find a provider” tool on their website to aid in the search. If you think the LAL could be the right lens for you, talk to your doctor and see the links below.