In choosing the best cataract surgery lens, it is important to understand that each type has unique characteristics as well as distinct advantages and disadvantages. Following the surgical removal of a cataract, an artificial cataract surgery lens is placed in the eye to help restore vision. Also known as an intraocular lens (IOL), each type has been rigorously tested for its safety and impact on vision. If you are planning cataract surgery, discuss your options and the relative benefits of each type with your eye surgeon or ophthalmologist.
The most commonly used cataract surgery lens is the fixed focus monofocal type. They typically offer excellent distance vision in a wide range of lighting situations and are often included in the surgical fee. The fixed focal length is usually calibrated to produce the best results with distant objects. This means you will likely still need reading glasses to enhance your close vision. Some fixed focus monofocal lenses are made with special filtering materials that block the harmful effects of blue light.
Accommodating monofocal IOLs are an appropriate choice when the cataract surgery lens needs to provide both good distance and near vision while eliminating the need for reading glasses. These IOLs have a single focal point, but this point can shift. The IOL shifts its focus point in concert with the eye, as it moves from looking at close objects to those at a distance. The lens does this by moving within the eye in response to the activity of the eye's focusing muscles. Vision of objects at an intermediate distance, such as computer screens, is usually excellent.
Multifocal IOLs also offer good distance and close vision, but do so using different technology. This cataract surgery lens divides light entering it so as to focus simultaneously on both distant and near objects. They also usually eliminate the need for glasses. Multifocal IOLs have a greater tendency to cause night-vision issues and are not recommended for those who frequently drive at night.
An astigmatism correcting IOL does just what the name implies. It replaces the cataract-clouded lens to improve overall near and distance vision, as well as eliminating or significantly reducing a corneal astigmatism. It often eliminates the need for glasses or contact lenses.
Accommodating monofocal, multifocal, and astigmatism correcting lenses require extensive preoperative measurements taken over several sessions. The patient is also usually given more preoperative counseling when these types of lenses are chosen. In most cases, these additional services are not covered by insurance.
Finally, as important as choosing the right cataract surgery lens may be, it is just as important to select a skilled eye surgeon who is experienced in implanting the type of lens you select. There are numerous online sources that provide the experiences of other patients and can be valuable in choosing the right ophthalmologist or eye surgeon. Speaking to friends and coworkers can also be a good source of referrals to competent eye surgeons.