June is Cataract Awareness Month, a time aimed at raising awareness for the world’s leading cause of blindness. According to the World Health Organization, at least 2.2 billion people globally have some type of vision impairment, about half of which were preventable or have yet to be addressed. Among other leading causes of vision impairment, such as uncorrected refractive errors, macular degeneration, and glaucoma, the prevalence of cataract poses significant financial burden by measure of lost productivity. Thus, the need for treating this condition remains high and millions of cataract surgeries are performed globally every year.
Cataract occurs due to clouding of the lens of the eye. This condition most frequently occurs as a result of age-related degenerative processes in the lens but can also be associated with ocular trauma, metabolic disorders, or congenital infections. The clouding causes distortion of light as it passes through the lens, resulting in visual impairment. Typically, only moderate to severe cases undergo cataract surgery, where a patient undergoes a procedure called phacoemulsification, and the natural lenses of the eyes are replaced with artificial lens called intraocular lens (IOL). In brief, during phacoemulsification, a small incision at the edge of the cornea is made to create an opening in the membrane that surrounds the lens. A small ultrasonic probe is inserted and vibrates ultrasonically to fragment the cloudy lens into smaller pieces, which are then suctioned out of the capsule by an attachment on the tip of a probe. After the lens particles are removed, an IOL is implanted and positioned into the lens’s natural capsule. Once the lens is inserted, it unfolds and is positioned in place.
There are several types of IOLs, which are categorized based on a combination of their composition material, focal lengths, whether they’re toric, etc. Advanced-technology intraocular lenses, which include aspheric IOLs, toric IOLs, multifocal IOLs, and accommodative IOLs, have made a paradigm shift in the management of cataracts. Newer IOL technologies including trifocal, quadrifocal, and extended depth-of-focus (EDOF) lenses have been instrumental in providing spectacle-free vision at all distances, along with improvement in optics and aberration profiles.
According to GlobalData, the global market of IOLs was worth $4.3 billion in 2021 and is set to grow steadily at least until the end of the decade. This is primarily driven by the growing capacity of many hospitals and clinics across all regions to perform more cataract surgeries as the unmet need for patients to be surgically treated remains high.