Beverly Crawley had a lot of problems with her vision. She had lost a lot of her focusing ability with age and from astigmatism (a misshapen cornea). She also had cataracts, a condition in which the eyes’ natural lenses become cloudy, which causes viewed objects and colors to lose their clarity.
To make matters worse, when she developed an ulcer in her right eye, the steroids used to treat it made the cataract worse and her vision unpredictable. She never knew from day to day what her focusing strength would be. To compensate, she kept an assortment of reading glasses with different magnifications in her purse.
Recently, though, Crawley became an early recipient of a new artificial lens implant called the Tecnis Symfony® Intraocular Lens. The change in her vision has been dramatic. “My sight is now how my doctor described it could be,” says Crawley. “I can see ‘from a pinpoint to the horizon.’”
“This new lens goes much further than previous ones in correcting various forms of vision,” says Richardson. “We’re pleased to add it to our other lens implant choices for patients.”
The current process is a far cry from when Richardson and Dr. Stoney Williamson first began performing eye surgery. “We’re eons ahead of the early days of cataract surgery,” says Williamson. “There were no implant lenses, so the patient had to wear glasses to regain any visual clarity. The surgery itself was long and required a hospital stay. Today with laser technology we perform an outpatient procedure in about ten minutes with no sutures.”
Williamson says the new lens is the next step in eye surgery advancement. “We’ve found this lens to be the most accurate intraocular lens to date.” The Symfony® lens follows a progression of intraocular lenses that have revolutionized vision treatment, particularly for cataracts. During cataract surgery, the surgeon accesses the clouded natural lens and removes it. The surgeon then inserts an implant lens into the eye to replace it. Depending on the type of lens used, the patient can regain varying degrees of focus. The first and still most frequently used lens is the monofocal: with this lens the person can see clearly at a distance but not objects up close. In most cases they’ll still need reading glasses.
Multifocal lenses take it a step further and can correct closer ranges of vision. They may not, though, have an impact on other vision abnormalities like astigmatism or presbyopia, the worsening with age of the ability to focus on close objects like fine print. The Symfony® Lens can improve focusing ability at all ranges, from distant to up close. And unlike its multifocal predecessors it can correct astigmatism and other issues associated with previous lenses. “The new lens can take advantage of all the available light to the eye, whereas a regular multifocal might lose half of that available light,” says Richardson. “We’re also seeing a much reduced halo or glare effect with the Symfony® that has been an issue with other lenses.”
According to Hattiesburg Eye Clinic surgeon Todd Williamson, the Symfony® lens appeals to patients who want to be as independent of glasses as possible, including the reading glasses many people turn to in middle age. “It’s possible for people with these lenses to get back the vision they had before age 40,” says Williamson. “Previous versions of implants allowed for a good deal of independence from glasses, but the Symfony® takes it further – and even patients with problems like astigmatism could gain 20/20 accuracy with no need for glasses at all.”
Crawley remembers well the moment she realized how much her vision had improved with the new lenses. Previous to her surgery, she would need to apply her makeup and fix her hair by “feel” – all she could see was a mass of hair in the mirror. The morning after her surgery, though, something was quite different. “When I looked in the mirror I could suddenly see individual strands of hair. It astounded me how my vision had changed.”
Today, Crawley enjoys the vividness of colors in her garden and can now clearly read the print in her Bible and on insurance cards at the office where she works. And all with no need for the various reading glasses she once kept in her purse. “It’s truly been an answer to prayer,” says Crawley.
The new Symfony® lens follows Hattiesburg Eye Clinic’s introduction a few months ago of the Catalys laser, the first in Mississippi to offer the state-of-the-art system. The computer-controlled laser performs highly precise incisions and automates many of the steps in the procedure to ensure the most optimal results.
With both Catalys and the new Symfony® lens, Hattiesburg Eye Clinic now offers the highest level of vision care for patients like Beverly Crawley. These new treatment options will make it possible for more people to turn back the clock on their vision.