What are Glistenings?

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Glistenings are a serious problem that can occur when a patient has cataract surgery.    In routine cataract surgery, the natural cloudy lens (cataract) is removed, and an artificial intraocular lens (implant) is placed in the eye. The implanted intraocular lens should improve vision and should remain clear. There is growing evidence that the most commonly implanted lens in the world, the Acrysof lens, has inclusions called glistenings which my degrade vision.

The problem is related to the material

The presence of glistenings seems to be related to the material that an intraocular lens is manufactured from and the process that is used to make it.   Intraocular lenses can be either molded or lathe cut from a material.   If a lens is molded, the process allows gaps to form within the material.   These gaps allow water to collect within them when the lens is implanted in the eye.   The water filled inclusions will cause light to scatter as it enters the eye, causing decreased vision.   Although the presence of glistenings has been documented in many types of lenses; in most, it is limited to a small degree.  However, in the Acrysof material, the glistenings are present in almost all lenses and the amount of glistenings has been found to increase with time.

Glistenings may degrade vision

There is growing evidence that the number of glistenings in the Acrysof material increase with time.  Glistenings cause many patients to complain of poor vision and of disabling night glare.    In up to 10 to 25% of patients, these glistenings are considered to be severe in nature.   In some patients, the symptoms have resulted in an exchange of the Acrysof lens for another intraocular.