OakLeaf Medical Network Healthy Viewpoints, Winter 2003
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Thomas Dow, MD

No More Glasses:
a revolutionary treatment

Thomas Dow, MD, Ophthalmology
Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic, Eau Claire

Some people have worn glasses since they were youngsters, others began to use glasses during high school and most folks over the age of 50 have some dependence on corrective lenses to read or do detailed work. It’s a part of “getting older”. Now, a revolutionary new breakthrough in vision enhancement called Crystalens is available in the Chippewa Valley. Crystalens is a surgically implanted intraocular lens replacement for cataracts and for refractive surgery that accommodates like the eye’s natural lens. This allows for seamless focusing up close, far away and at all distances in between – without glasses.
Surgical vision correction has undergone tremendous change over the past 40 years. We have reached a point where vision correction procedures are the most frequently performed surgery in most developed countries. This incredible evolution in technology is driven by two things:

  • The patient’s desire for excellent vision
  • A lifestyle unencumbered by a dependence on corrective lenses

Contemporary cataract and refractive surgeries are now capable of providing patients with the opportunity to have improved vision; sometimes better than 20/20. Yet, for all these advances, restoring the patient’s natural ability to “accommodate” (shift focus from close up to far away), after cataract surgery has been impossible. Cataract patients require glasses for near vision. Consequently, the number one priority for patients and doctors has been to seek a technology that can reduce or eliminate the need for bifocals, trifocals, contact lenses, or reading glasses.

Patient expectations have changed as a result of the advances in vision correction technology. Baby Boomers are educated in the capabilities of contemporary corneal refractive surgery, (often referred to as LASIK). Now that they are starting to experience the realities of the aging eye, they are hoping for the same level of quality and visual independence as is promised by corneal refractive surgery in younger patients who have not lost their ability to shift focus.

A uniquely designed lens called Crystalens offers a new dimension in vision restoration after cataract removal.

How does it work?

Near and intermediate vision result from the action of the focusing muscle in the eye, called the ciliary muscle. This muscle changes and adjusts the focus of the natural lens. Even though the ciliary muscle continues to work, the natural lens gets progressively rigid as the eye ages, requiring the use of bifocals or “cheaters”. The Crystalens is designed to move backward and forward inside the eye using the same muscle as your natural lens. This action enables the eye to automatically focus for close up or distance, as needed - to reduce the need for glasses or contact lenses after surgery


The complications and side effects experienced during the clinical study of the Crystalens were comparable to those experienced with other intraocular lenses and with routine cataract surgery and are the same risks that exist for all intraocular lenses. The Crystalens, which was approved by the FDA late last year, is the result of more than 14 years of research.

Are you a candidate for the Crystalens?

There are a number of eye diseases that would preclude the use of the Crystalens. Some eyes may be out of the range of the power for Crystalens. While most patients will be having this surgery for replacement of the lens due to cataracts, the procedure is also applicable for general vision improvement. Because it is new and a premium service, some insurances and Medicare will not pay for this lens.

Non-Medicare patients having this surgery may need to accept some financial risk for the lens cost and service.

If you, or someone you know, is facing the possibility of cataract surgery, or would like to explore the possibility of living without a dependence on corrective lens, ask about Crystalens.

For more information, call Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic, Eau Claire » 715.834.8471