Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Ground & Other Ops Forums > Medical & Health
Reload this Page >

Any experiences of lens replacement (cataract or otherwise)?

Medical & Health News and debate about medical and health issues as they relate to aircrews and aviation. Any information gleaned from this forum MUST be backed up by consulting your state-registered health professional or AME. Due to advertising legislation in various jurisdictions, endorsements of individual practitioners is not permitted.

Any experiences of lens replacement (cataract or otherwise)?

Old 10th Nov 2010, 10:57
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 1999
Location: Lurking within the psyche of Dave Sawdon
Posts: 747
Any experiences of lens replacement (cataract or otherwise)?

Has anyone here had experience of lens replacement? I'm thinking of it as an alternative to specs but am getting conflicting info about how long I would be grounded for.
hugh flung_dung is offline  
Old 10th Nov 2010, 11:52
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2001
Posts: 10,828
None persoanlly but there have been quite a few threads in the medical section on the subject.

I do know a couple of commercial pilots who have had Cataracts removed and they had a period of grounding followed by a consultant report and they were flying again. 3-6 months rings a bell.
mad_jock is offline  
Old 10th Nov 2010, 19:17
  #3 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: South Oxfordshire
Posts: 586
Do you mean [email protected] surgery? Lens replacement won't necessarily free you from glasses...fixed distance focus means you'll need specs for close up stuff like reading, checking instruments etc., and you may still need glasses to sharpen up your distance vision anyway. That's how my lens replacement worked out! (For cataract...when I was 26!)

I was driving again inside a few weeks once my new specs had been sorted, but don't know about grounding period for flying I'm afraid.
Blues&twos is online now  
Old 12th Nov 2010, 09:10
  #4 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Somewhere in Southern England
Posts: 180
I had cataract operations on both eyes and the UK CAA requirement was that I was grounded from the day of the first operation until six weeks after the second operation, which in my case meant a total of eight weeks. The requirement to have my medical reinstated was simply that I underwent a Comprehensive Eye Examination at my local optician and submitted the results to the CAA.

Once this had been done it took the CAA less than 48 hours to contact me and wish me happy flying.
Another_CFI is offline  
Old 12th Nov 2010, 11:11
  #5 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 1999
Location: Lurking within the psyche of Dave Sawdon
Posts: 747
Thanks to all. Six weeks might be just-about tolerable, but 3-6 months would be a no-no.
Another ... :
Was there any reason not to get them both done at the same time and just tolerate a couple of days relative blindness? Did you consider the new'ish IOLs which are supposed to give some accommodation, or going for different corrections in each eye to get around the need for reading specs?
hugh flung_dung is offline  
Old 12th Nov 2010, 14:39
  #6 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Somewhere in Southern England
Posts: 180
The reason for having each eye done seperately was that that was the protocol that the surgeon followed. He never did both eyes at the same time.

The reason for having each eye optimised for distance viewing was that I now only require to wear glasses for reading, since my distance vision is now slightly better than 6/6. There is no guarantee that you would obtain the same result and it is possible that you may have to wear glasses for distance as well. I suspect that with different corrections in each eye you would have to wear glasses all of the time since one eye would require distance correction and the other near vision correction.
Another_CFI is offline  
Old 12th Nov 2010, 15:18
  #7 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: York
Age: 48
Posts: 737
Was there any reason not to get them both done at the same time and just tolerate a couple of days relative blindness?

This is done in some circumstances but the main argument against it is infection.

Did you consider the new'ish IOLs which are supposed to give some accommodation

In my professional opinion they don't work

or going for different corrections in each eye to get around the need for reading specs?

Monovision isn't allowed by the CAA
Mickey Kaye is offline  
Old 12th Nov 2010, 15:59
  #8 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 1999
Location: Lurking within the psyche of Dave Sawdon
Posts: 747
Yes, the accommodating IOLs (such as Crystalens) seem to work for some but there's no guarantee of performance; it's useful to hear your scepticism.

There seems to be a fair chunk of evidence that monovision works for most non-pilots after a settling period (although I know someone who tried it with contact lenses and couldn't adapt). I'm +2.5 distance and a further +1 reading (middle-aged ). I wonder if it would be an option to go for monovision and then wear spectacles when flying, in order to give acceptable binocular vision(?) If this was acceptable it would at least mean that specs weren't needed on the ground.
hugh flung_dung is offline  
Old 14th Nov 2010, 09:12
  #9 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Surrey, England
Posts: 727
Intra-ocular lenses

Hi Hugh,

I am currently in the position of having to consider intra-occular lenses as I now have cataracts in both eyes. So I have done a good deal of research into the intra-occular lenses available. I am now trying to make up my mind which to go for. As my eyes are not bad enough to justify treatment by the local PCT under the NHS, I shall have to pay for whatever lenses I have.

There are in fact five different kinds of lenses available, depending on which ones are most suitable for your requirements and how much you are prepared to spend. However, only a couple of the lenses available are acceptable to the CAA for flying purposes.

Since you seem to suffer only from Presbyopia, (i.e. the need for longer arms when reading,) my guess is that you would be ineligible for new lenses under the NHS anyway, and would have to pay for treatment yourself.

I also suspect that with the basic, single focus lenses you would still have to have new spectacles from time to time as advancing age continues to lengthen your eyeballs.

All together, these are the options: -
  1. basic single focus lenses
  2. accommodating lenses
  3. multi-focal lenses
  4. light adjustable lenses
  5. the Synchrony lens

My optician has advised me that he has heard too many stories about people having to have accommodating and multi-focal lenses removed and replaced by basic single focus lenses. So his advice was to stick to the basic lenses, both set at distance vision, and then wear vari-focal spectacles to give me my other focal distances. He also advised against having one lens set at distance and the other set at close vision, as I believe is common in the States.

The LAL (light adjustable) lens and the Synchrony lens are very new in the UK. They have only been introduced in the last year and only one surgeon at the London Eye Hospital (private) installs them.

LAL is totally unsuitable for anyone who flies or who drives at night. These cost 5,000 for EACH EYE!

The Synchrony is the 'bobby dazzler' as you don't need spectacles of any sort ever again, but it is still very new. When I saw the surgeon at London Eye Hospital, he told me that at that time he had so far only installed them for just six patients. The other problem is that they cost 4,500 for EACH EYE!

There is a vast amount of information available on the 'net. If you access NICE, you will see the advice of that august body to the NHS. If you access London Eye Hospital's website, you will see info about the new lenses. I suggest you do your homework very carefully before you choose any but the basic lenses and you should be prepared to pay for them yourself.
BroomstickPilot is offline  
Old 14th Nov 2010, 12:24
  #10 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: 26000 to 28,000 lightyears from the galatic centre
Age: 72
Posts: 180
I had both eyes done in 1997 due to cataracts. This enabled me to upgrade to a CAA class 1 medical. However things can go wrong and within 2 months of the operation on the left eye it reacted in that the rear of the lens sack started to thicken such that I was seeing multiple PAPis at night and multiple defocused images in my peripheral vision. As the work had been done by my companies private health insurance my eye surgeon used a [email protected] system to blast a hole in the rear of the eye sack. This fixed the problem and I flew as CPL/FI until I retired in 2008. My AME was sympathetic and supportive. Not sure what the reaction would have been if I had wanted to do Public Transport Operations.
Additionally I have been using vari focal glasses ever since 1980 and continued to use them after the operations.

Now however I have a problem with the left eye in that the sack seems to have distorted and the centre of focus is off to the left. Its not a major issue but its makes things difficult during eye test in that we cant get a good crisp focus.

So suggest you chat to CAA eye experts as well as your eye surgeon and understand the risks and the long term effects.

orionsbelt is offline  
Old 1st May 2012, 01:05
  #11 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: California
Age: 55
Posts: 19
Broomstick -

I think you got wrong info on the Light Adjustable Lens - it is perfectly fine for night and flying; it is essentially a monofocal lens like a standard IOL, except it can be altered after insertion in a totally non-invasive way (by UV light from a very clever machine) to fine tune the power. Apart from it's "tunability" it is exactly the same as a regular monofocal.

The lenses that are discouraged for pilots are multifocals - these have concentric rings of varying power which can cause some halos or glare, though it is far from universal; some people cope fine with them, but you get nothing for free in physics and the price you pay is the loss of crispness in your vision, though you may be able to focus perfectly, you simply don't get to use all the available light.

Just thought I'd clear that up.
Zamfire is offline  
Old 1st May 2012, 06:35
  #12 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Belgium
Posts: 482
You may want to read up on this: chapter 20 applies, the rest is very interesting too:

The Healing Factor: Vitamin C Against DiseaseC
dirkdj is offline  
Old 2nd May 2012, 22:58
  #13 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: gone surfin'
Age: 53
Posts: 2,323
Have seen many patients with "IOL" (Implantation of lens), following surgery for cataract. (If that's what you're talking about).

Don't think I've ever seen a complication. Ever.

Can't imagine you'd be grounded for too long, but expect the authorities would like to ensure that the bubbles had gone (14 days or so) and that you can tell the difference between 05R and 05L. For some, that could take longer.
gingernut is offline  
Old 7th May 2012, 07:00
  #14 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: UK
Posts: 129
I believe that the UK CAA would consider intraocular lens replacement as a type of refractive surgery, (if done for refractive error rather than cataract).

They suggest contacting the medical department for advice on revalidation requirements for all types of refractive surgery.

See page 2 of this.


(Page 2 also mentions that mulitifocal implants are not approved by the UK CAA).
Phororhacos is offline  
Old 11th Mar 2013, 10:08
  #15 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Broadstone
Age: 76
Posts: 1
Lal implants

I had a consultation at the London eye Hospital for the Lal implants just over a week ago, the cost of these with long and close vision is 20,000. They actually start off at 12,000 but if you have them installed with [email protected] and adjustment for all sight I was quoted 20,000.
alankjones is offline  
Old 29th May 2013, 11:52
  #16 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2013
Location: london
Posts: 1
Multi-focal lens implant

Don't make the same mistake I did and get a multi focal lens. Despite being convinced about glare and halos being reduced by the surgeon and their lterature, I have very poor vision now in the eye and will be getting the lens removed soon and replaced with a mono focus lens. I have unacceptable halos and blurred vision in all but bright sunshine. That means indoors, outdoors in cloudy weather, at work, I am effectively using the other eye as the eye with the implant gives next to useless vision. Don't be fooled like I was. These types of lens are still prone to all kinds of problems, not least because they let in about 20% less light than monofocals and this makes contrast difficult, something no amount of time will cure.

I am really p*ssed at myself for not doing my homework properly. Be very sceptical of the marketing hype around these lens. In my opinion, they should be banned.
saddie_maddie is offline  
Old 31st May 2013, 16:00
  #17 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: In the Haven of Peace
Age: 74
Posts: 595
Thumbs up

I had Refractive Lens Exchange surgery done by Optical Express nearly 3 years ago (aged 65) and had my natural lenses replaced with multi-focal intraocular lenses. It cost me 3,590, have had no problems whatsoever with halos, find everything much brighter than it was with my old natural lenses which were yellowing with the passage of time and I have perfect and clear vision at all ranges. I can read the standard eye test board with either eye right down to the last line.

My operation was done by Professor Jan Venter, a South African surgeon who has performed over 60,000 eye operations. I had a 10 day gap between eyes being done and in each case, the morning after the operation I had perfect vision which has remained the same ever since. I found it very liberating and have never worn spectacles or contact lenses since the day my lenses were replaced
soggyboxers is offline  
Old 22nd Sep 2017, 13:45
  #18 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: London SW2 3DJ
Posts: 1
Optical Express dissapointment, need alternative ASAP

I was tested at Optical Express in February 2017 and deemed a good candidate for refractive lens surgery, as my eyesight is appalling, and I struggle to do my oil paintings as a result, with stinging eyes after a while wearing my prescription glasses. I was told to see my Surgeon 2 weeks prior to the planned op, and was then surprisingly rejected, and told that as an "Artist", the surgery would make my vision 'worse', for something like that!
Now I'm confused as to where to go. I've heard of people paying around 6000, and then being anle to see everything as clear as when they were a child,
but I have just read of someone being quoted 20,000 by a well known eye hospital.
Also, I'm short sighted, but can't see 6 feet ahead either. Help!
leemartinez6 is offline  
Old 16th May 2018, 19:32
  #19 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2018
Location: Warsaw
Posts: 6
Grrr CATARACT surgery - IOL Intraocular Lens implant

Hi Guys,
I know this topic has been discussed here, however, not fully yet.
I am a young commercial pilot who has been diagnosed with unilateral cataract. EASA Class 1 medical holder (EU).

I have already studied both European and other regulations and have established some technical requirments, such as:
monofocal, aspheric IOL, set for distance (plano), acrylic, preferably hydrophobic (in order to reduce PCO likelihood).

However, there's one big issue.

I was discouraged by my AME (in Europe) from choosing blue light-filtering IOLs due to alleged unfavourable influence on scotopic vision and colour perception. Other AME confirmed this recommendation.
But my surgeon says it is completely unwise due to cumulative blue light expousure starting from such a young age.

However, I could NOT find ANY regulation whether blue blockers (yellow intraocular lenses) are actually disapproved in Aviation worldwide or not.

Thank you for your help.


Last edited by ypilot; 17th May 2018 at 11:52. Reason: simplified
ypilot is offline  
Old 16th May 2018, 20:37
  #20 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2018
Location: Warsaw
Posts: 6
Could you specify what exact brand of IOL you have had implanted?
I am going to have my lens replaced soon at the same age..
ypilot is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.