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What Is the Best Lens for Your Cataract Surgery?

11 sources cited

Last Updated

When considering cataract surgery, it’s essential to understand the variety of intraocular lens (IOL) options available to you. The types of IOLs include:

  • Monofocal IOLs
  • Multifocal IOLs
  • Accommodative IOLs
  • Toric IOLs
  • Extended Depth-of-Focus (EDOF) IOLs

While monofocal lenses are the most commonly used lens for cataract surgery, you may be able to achieve better vision if you choose a premium lens. The best lens for your cataract surgery will depend on your vision and any refractive errors you are looking to correct.

What are IOLs?

An intraocular lens, or IOL, serves a very similar function to the removed natural lens. It adjusts to incoming light and focuses images on your retina. There are many types of IOLs available.

Monofocal IOLs

Monofocal IOLs are the most common type of IOL and also the cheapest.

As the name implies, a monofocal IOL has a singular focus point, with an individual lens designed for close, medium, or distance range. Most people choose lenses set for distance vision and use reading glasses when they need to see up close.

As with all IOL types, monofocal IOLs have seen improvements in recent years.

Multifocal IOLs

Multifocal IOLs are designed to have different zones that provide different levels of focus, effectively allowing one lens to help with multiple vision ranges. This is similar to how bifocal or trifocal glasses work.

It can take more time to get used to these lenses, and they cost more than monofocal IOLs. However, many prefer the higher level of utility multifocal IOLs can provide. They often allow a person to perform both distant and close vision tasks without corrective eyewear.

Accommodative IOLs

Accommodative IOLs are a somewhat more recent IOL style. They can change shape or move in the eye in a way somewhat similar to a natural eye lens.

These are generally one of the most expensive types of IOL, but they also offer few disadvantages compared to high-quality lenses of other types. Many people with accommodative IOLs don’t need glasses, although this isn’t a guarantee.

Toric IOLs

This type of IOL is different from the other types on that list, as it is designed specifically for people with astigmatism. Toric IOLs help refract light in a way that corrects astigmatism while also serving as a lens for the eye.

A toric IOL is, by design, also one of the other lens types (for example, one might get a multifocal toric IOL) and will usually cost more than a standard lens of the same type.

Extended Depth-of-Focus (EDOF) IOLs

Age-related nearsightedness (or presbyopia) is the target for extended depth-of-focus (EDOF) IOLs. These lenses work by creating a single elongated focal point, so you have an enhanced range of vision. 

Researchers say lenses like this can reduce glare and halos seen with other types of lenses.

How to Choose the Best Lens for Your Cataract Surgery

What is the Best Cataract Lens Option?

These are some factors to consider when choosing the best lens for your cataract surgery:

  • Cost
  • Expected time to adapt
  • Your daily vision needs
  • Whether you want to avoid glasses altogether

Talk to your surgeon about what you can realistically expect from a given lens option. Avoid only getting your information from a manufacturer’s marketing materials, as those sources can be biased even if the information they provide is technically accurate. It may also be a good idea to seek firsthand accounts of people’s experiences with the same lens you are considering.

Will Insurance Cover IOLs?

Always check the specifics of your insurance plan before choosing an IOL option. Even if cost is not a significant factor in your decision, you want to ensure you can take full advantage of the coverage available to you.

Will Private Insurance Cover IOLs?

Insurance usually covers cataract surgery and the standard IOL option, which is a monofocal lens. Alternative IOL options often aren’t covered, partly because they cost more than monofocal lenses, and it is usually possible to achieve a similar level of vision by using monofocal lenses combined with corrective eyewear, like glasses.

In many cases, your insurance plan may cover the cost of an IOL option up to the standard price of a monofocal lens and require you to pay the difference out of pocket.

Will Medicare Cover IOLs?

Medicare plans cover “conventional” IOLs, including the cost of buying the lenses and implanting them surgically. Many approved lenses are monofocal, but others are toric or multifocal. 

Choose your IOL carefully, as picking the wrong one can mean paying for the entire process yourself. Your doctor should help you find one that’s right for your plan.

References

  1. Light-Sensitive Brain Pathways and Aging. (March 2016). Journal of Physiological Anthropology.
  2. Eye Health Statistics. American Academy of Ophthalmology.
  3. Cataracts. (January 2023). National Eye Institute.
  4. Vision 2020: The Cataract Challenge. (2000). Community Eye Health Journal.
  5. Cataracts Cause a Third of Worldwide Blindness. SEE.
  6. A Comparison of Clinical Outcomes and Optical Performance Between Monofocal and New Monofocal With Enhanced Intermediate Function Intraocular Lenses: A Case-Control Study. (October 2021). BMC Ophthalmology.
  7. Optimizing Outcomes With Multifocal Intraocular Lenses. (December 2017). Indian Journal of Ophthalmology.
  8. The Pros and Cons of Multifocal and Accommodating IOLs. (February 2008). ASCRS EyeWorld.
  9. Toric Intraocular Lens for Astigmatism Correction in Cataract Patients. (October 2017). Advanced Biomedical Research.
  10. Extended Depth-of-Field Intraocular Lenses: An Update. (June 2020). Asia-Pacific Journal of Ophthalmology.
  11. Medicare Vision Services. (August 2021). Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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