CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Carol Hannah knew she had cataracts.
But the 73-year-old didn't know the clouding in her eyes would cause her to accidentally drive out of an alley and in front of an oncoming car.
"There was a car coming from my left and I couldn't see it at first. That's when I knew the cataracts were impeding my vision," Hannah said. "I could tell driving that I was not having full vision in my left eye; that's when I decided to get Crystalens."
Hannah's eye doctor, Dr. Lawrence Minardi, has performed Crystalens implants since March 2005.
Crystalens is an artificial lens implant that can treat both a person's cataracts and presbyopia, the loss of near and intermediate vision.
Introduced in 2003, it is the first and only accommodating intraocular lens approved by the Federal Drug Administration, Bausch & Lomb, developers of the Crystalens, wrote in an email.
Nearly 4,000 physicians in the U.S. have implanted several hundreds of thousands of Crystalens, Bausch & Lomb wrote.
Minardi said when he performs cataract surgery he typically replaces the eye's natural lens with a standard IOL. But the Crystalens actually mimics what the natural lens of an eye does, he said.
"The standard conventional lens implant can only focus for far away because it doesn't have the ability to accommodate like the natural lens," Minardi explained. "There's no perfect lens implant. Nothing we have manmade is quite as good as the natural lens the good Lord gave us, but the Crystalens is made in such a way that it's closer to the natural lens than the conventional replacement."
For Hannah, who wore glasses since her 50s, not having to put another pair of bifocals on again was the biggest bonus of her surgery.
"The regular lens implant doesn't give you the full vision -- you still have to wear glasses," Hannah said. "To me, Crystalens were worth it because I can read a newspaper without glasses. I can watch TV without glasses."
Former First Lady Gayle Manchin, 65, put on her first pair of glasses at the age of 12. She started wearing contacts as a young adult to help her see at a distance and even tried bifocals as an adult.
When she and husband Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., moved to Washington in 2010, Manchin said she started seeing halos of light around cars' headlights and blurry street signs.
"For me, there was a safety issue involved. I didn't feel comfortable driving. I felt my lack of really good eyesight was preventing me from driving as well as I should be," Gayle Manchin said.
After her mother referred her to Minardi, Manchin and Minardi agreed that Crystalens was the best option for her.