What Is the Symfony IOL? Comparing Options
Most people will experience changes to their vision as the years go by, but some conditions are more serious and require removal of the eye’s natural lens. People who have developed cataracts may get an IOL to replace the natural lens they have lost, making them eligible for a Symfony or other type of IOL.
A Symfony IOL can be better for people who want to avoid using glasses or contacts in the future. Other IOLs may be better options for some patients, depending on their eyesight and eye health.
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Focusing Powers of IOLs
Intraocular lens (IOL) implants have been around for several decades, and they focus on helping people see better at a distance. They have been available in the following focusing powers:
- Toric: These IOLs tend to be used for people with astigmatism, a problem that means their lens is irregularly shaped.
- Accommodative: These IOLs change shape or move along with your eye. They allow you to see well across different distances.
- Monofocal: These are the most common IOLs used. They can be set to help you see better at close, medium, or long distances, though most people choose the focusing power that lets them see clearly from far away.
- Multifocal: Like bifocal or multifocal glasses, this type of IOL has different focusing powers in different parts of the lens. This helps patients see from a variety of distances.
Overview: Symfony Intraocular Lens Implant
The Symfony intraocular lens implant was the first FDA-approved IOL with extended depth of focus, so patients could see from a variety of distances.
The Symfony IOL was a significant technological achievement and considered an alternative to monofocal lenses. Symfony IOLs also manufacture toric implants for patients with astigmatism.
The lenses were created to help patients see well without having to use glasses or contacts after surgery.
Up to 77 percent of patients who got Symfony IOLs were able to see well at intermediate distances without the need for glasses or contacts, while only 34 percent of patients with monofocal implants could do the same.
Patients had almost equal ability to see well at longer distances with monofocal or Symfony IOLs, but there some disadvantages to these lenses.
- There is a higher likelihood of bleeding, blurry vision, or infection.
- The ability to tell colors apart (contrast sensitivity) may become diminished, and this often becomes worse in darker light or dim conditions, including in fog.
- It is common for patients to see starbursts, halos, or glare after implants.
The FDA did a recall of the Symfony IOLs on August 2016. This affected 737 lenses that were determined to be safe, though a process control issue resulted in a lack of checks before distribution. Several IOLs were mislabeled, and future customers should have no problem.
Who Is Eligible for IOLs?
IOLs are one of three options for patients who have surgery to remove cataracts. Cataracts make the lens look cloudy and make it difficult to see. Once the cataract-filled lens is removed, the eye is unable to accurately focus.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved IOLs for patients who are 18 and older. Putting IOLs in children is considered off-label use, but it is sometimes done. These lenses sometimes benefit children or infants who develop cataracts at a young age.
In some instances, children who have their cataract surgery may use glasses or contacts and receive an IOL once they are old enough to undergo surgery.
How Do I Know Symfony IOLs Are Right for Me?
Getting IOLs require surgery, which means you can expect to have a consultation with your doctor to determine the type of IOLs you may need. You can expect the following steps before choosing the appropriate IOL for you:
- Your doctor will conduct a thorough exam to make sure your eye is strong enough to endure surgery. The exam will include pupil measurements, assessing the distance between your iris and cornea, and a count of the cells behind the cornea (endothelial cell counts).
- Your doctor will ask questions about your eye health and medical history. Tell your doctor whether you have had a traumatic eye injury or past eye problems.
- They will also ask questions about possible past eye surgery, allergies, or medications you are taking.
This information will help your doctor determine whether or not you are a good candidate for cataract surgery. It helps to talk to your doctor about what you expect out of the procedure. Carefully consider any possible alternatives, as well as pros and cons.
Ask about what you need to do after surgery so you can take good care of your eye as it heals. At this point, your doctor will go over lenses, and you will have time to consider the Symfony IOL as well as alternatives.
Are Different IOLs Available?
Yes, Symfony is considered a good brand, and it is suitable for customers who could use its extended-range focusing powers. But you have many IOL options and various brands from which to choose.
Below is a shortlist of FDA-approved IOLs for a variety of needs.
- Toric: enVista Toric, TECNIS Toric, and AcrySof IQ Toric
- Multifocal: AcrySof IQ ReSTOR and TECNIS Multifocal
- Aspheric: AcrySof IQ, enVista, and TECNIS
- Accommodating: TRULIGN Toric IOL and Crystalens AO
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between Symfony IOLs and other types of IOLs?
The Symfony IOL was designed and approved because it allows for extended depth of field. This allows for better sight across short, medium, and long distances.
Other IOLs can correct for different eyesight issues, but they do not offer this extended depth of focus. For this reason, people with other types of IOLs may still use contacts or glasses after cataract surgery.
When would I consider a Symfony IOL implant?
You will have an initial consultation with your doctor, who will ask about your eye health and medical history. Measurements of your eye will be taken, and your doctor will ask about medications you may be taking and past injuries (if any). This information will help your doctor determine whether or not you are a good candidate for an IOL implant.
Your doctor will then likely recommend a certain lens that they will believe will work best for you.
Your eye needs to be healthy enough to undergo surgery. Most people who are eligible for an IOL are at least 18 years old, though some children may be able to obtain an IOL depending on the specific circumstances.
Are there different IOLs available?
Yes, some of these include monofocal lenses that correct vision across one distance, multifocal lenses that correct across different distances, accommodating lenses that move along with the eye, and toric lenses that are great for people with astigmatism. Talk to your doctor about the best choice for your situation.
- Class 2 Device Recall TECNIS. (September 2016). Food and Drug Administration.
- IOL Implants: Lens Replacements After Cataracts. (October 2019). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
- Intraocular Lens Implant (IOL). (July 2017). American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.
- FDA Approves First Intraocular Lens With Extended Range of Vision for Cataract Patients. (July 2016). Food and Drug Administration.
- Before, During, & After Surgery. (January 2018). Food and Drug Administration.
- What Is an Intraocular Lens Implant? WebMD.