If you have a cataract, it means that the lens inside your eye is clouded with proteins. A cloudy lens results in blurry, hazy, or less colorful vision. When cataracts start to affect daily tasks such as reading, driving, watching television or recognizing faces, cataract surgery is often recommended.
During cataract surgery, the eye’s natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial implant called an intraocular lens (IOL). IOLs function the same way as the eye’s natural lens — they bend light that enters the eye so images can properly reach the retina, which results in clear vision.
But How Do I Choose an IOL for Cataract Surgery?
Before cataract surgery, you’ll need to consult with your doctor to find out which IOL is right for you. At Montgomery Eye Center, we understand how difficult this decision can be. There are a variety of IOLs on the market, and it’s not always easy to understand what makes each one different.
First, know that you’re not alone — many patients have questions about choosing the best IOL for cataract surgery. To help, here are three tips for selecting an IOL that fits your vision and lifestyle.
Assess Your Needs
What types of activities require your best vision? What activities do you most enjoy without glasses? Do you spend the majority of your day indoors or outdoors or is it pretty equally divided?
Do you enjoy sports where it is best to have freedom from glasses? How much night driving do you do? Do you mostly read at the computer or printed materials? How much do you read?
With what activities are you most willing to compromise and wear glasses? How is the general health of your eye? Consider what you’re okay with and what your ideal situation would be after cataract surgery in regards to dependence on glasses.
IOLs to Consider
Most patients desire good distance vision and prefer not to wear glasses to achieve it. Placing IOLs in each eye focused for the best distance vision and then wearing reading glasses primarily for up close vision is often a common choice for patients. Some, however, prefer to even minimize dependence on those reading glasses, too. Following are some options to consider if you would like to also rid yourself of those reading glasses.
If you are used to contact lenses with one eye focused at distance and one at near this is called monovision. You might want to consider “monovision” with cataract surgery if you are used to it. This is achieved by implanting two single focus IOLs in each eye. One is for distance vision, and the other is for seeing objects up-close. Astigmatism correction may be necessary to optimize each individual eye for its preferred distance.
Monovision may be difficult to tolerate if you have not had prior experience with it i.e. wearing contact lenses. So it is important to know if this works for you before you commit to it with cataract surgery. A long trial of contact lenses should be considered before undergoing cataract surgery to accomplish this.
Mini-Monovision or Blended Vision results in clearer vision at mid-range distances, which can be great if you work on a computer. But, it’s likely you will need reading glasses for doing anything that requires close-up work. It is better tolerated than full monovision because the image focus points are not as widely separated between the eyes.
If you prefer to not wear reading glasses, then another choice you may want to consider is a multifocal IOL, This type of IOL allows you to see clearly up-close and far away. Although these lenses have some limitations up close they have the most range of vision. They are often called “Lifestyle” lenses because of the freedom from glasses they can provide.
Multifocal IOLs are designed with rings that go out from the center of the lens, each of which contain alternating refractive powers. Multifocal IOLs “train” your brain to look through certain parts of the lens, depending on if you need to see up-close or far away. The power rings can cause some night-time rings around point sources of lights like headlights.
If you have astigmatism, then a toric IOL can be implanted which is designed specifically to correct for astigmatism. It is better to correct astigmatism with an IOL rather than glasses because the correction will be inside your eye and optimize focusing power for central as well as peripheral vision. Astigmatism lenses are available in multifocal and non-multifocal IOL types.
Be Prepared to Wear Glasses
If you get basic limited focus monofocal IOL with insurance only coverage, then expect to wear glasses to see up-close and far away. It may be possible to just get by with reading glasses but do not count on it.
It is possible that you may need full-time glasses even if you have not needed them full-time prior to surgery because an insurance covered lens may not optimally focus your vision without glasses. Even with premium lens choices, there may be instances where you still may need some supplemental glasses but it is typically less frequent.
Determine How Much You Want to Spend
Insurance covers only limited testing and services to correct the cataract but does not concern itself with dependency on glasses. Services to reduce or limit the need for glasses and contacts are considered “premium” services and go beyond typical insurance coverages. This means that insurance is unlikely to cover their cost, so you’ll have to pay for some out of pocket expenses if you prefer minimal spectacle dependence.
If you don’t want to pay extra for cataract surgery with premium services and IOLs then the surgeons will do their best for you within the limitations of insurance coverage. But, if you want the best chance of clear vision without glasses, it’s important to consider premium lenses and services. It is important to understand your options prior to surgery.
Cataract Surgery, Naples FL
Need more information on choosing the best IOL? Contact us to review your options! Our team of cataract surgery specialists in Naples, FL are here to answer your questions and provide the most up-to-date information on modern IOLs. Schedule your appointment today!