I Need You To Focus

The eye’s natural lens accounts for 20% of the eye’s focusing power and is essential for clear sight. Cataracts are an irreversible disease that causes this lens to turn opaque. Usually age-related, the eye then has difficulty processing incoming images, which begin to appear blurry or cloudy. Currently, the only method for treating cataracts is through surgery and the placement of an artificial intraocular lens (IOL).

Out with the old, in with the new

During the procedure, a surgeon will remove the muddy lens through a tiny incision on the surface of the eye. Because the eye relies on the lens to focus light, the ophthalmologist typically places an IOL where the lens once was. An IOL provides the focal boost the eye needs to see clearly again.

Take your pick

No two eyes are exactly the same. Therefore, there is an assortment of IOLs to accommodate a wide range of visual needs post-surgery.

Monofocal lenses

Monofocal IOLs are the most common type of lens implant used during cataract surgery. These lenses correct vision for either distance, intermediate, or near, depending on the patient’s preference. A majority of individuals receiving monofocal IOLs choose distance vision in hopes of seeing far-away objects without glasses. Whatever the decision, the other two fields of vision will likely require glasses to see clearly after surgery.

Toric lenses

Some patients have a condition called astigmatism, which is an irregular curvature of the cornea usually treated with glasses. Toric IOLs are a special form of monofocal lens designed specifically to compensate for the effects of astigmatism. Individuals with astigmatism choosing this IOL may be able to see clearly without glasses after cataract extraction as a result. Like other monofocal lenses, visual correction only happens at either distance, intermediate, or close-up.

Multifocal lenses

Individuals wanting to see both up close and far away can consider a multifocal IOL. These lenses are made with varying focal powers to allow for switching between the two zones. The result is often a reduced dependence on glasses or no need for extra correction at all.

Your choice to make

When identifying the optimal lens for surgery, patients should consider habits that may favor one or the other. Active individuals may want to avoid wearing glasses for outdoor activities or driving. If reading is important, getting a lens for seeing close-up may be the best choice. Folks desiring the best of both worlds may lean towards a multifocal lens. Think through any and all lifestyle goals before making a selection.

What’s this going to cost me?

Most insurance carriers will cover at least a portion of a monofocal lens implant during surgery. However, Toric and multifocal IOLs are rarely covered and almost always must be paid for out of pocket. Fees vary from clinic to clinic, but anticipate this extra cost when planning for a cataract procedure.

The same surgery no matter what

At the end of the day, the lens choice won’t make a significant impact on how cataract surgery is performed. Cataract surgery is a safe and effective way to restore vision loss from a cloudy lens. In fact, over 95% of patients experience improved vision thanks to the new IOL. Working closely with a healthcare specialist with lens options is the key to the best surgical outcome.