Are Multifocal IOLs the Right Lenses for You?

A woman is happy with her improved eyesight.

Cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures performed, and you’ll likely have to consider it at some point. The procedure continues evolving, thanks to technological advances that have increased the number of options available for replacement lenses. New York Ophthalmology offers these choices to cataract surgery patients at our Bronx and Queens, NY, locations.

In this blog post, I’ll first provide a brief explanation about why people need cataract surgery and then explain the different lens options available and why a certain type of lens might be better suited for specific patients.

What Are Cataracts?

Cataracts are an age-related eye condition that gradually impairs a person’s vision. Cloudy, blurry vision is a common sign of cataracts, along with problems seeing at night, seeing double, and developing a sensitivity to light. Traditional cataract surgery uses ultrasound energy to break the cloudy lens into tiny pieces, which are then removed. We also perform laser cataract surgery when appropriate.

Intraocular Lenses (IOLs)

During cataract surgery, the eye surgeon replaces the natural lens with an artificial intraocular lens. Patients, after consulting with their ophthalmologist, choose from different types of IOLs. Here’s a brief explanation about your IOL options:

Monofocal IOLs

The primary benefit of monofocal IOLs—which have been approved for use in the U.S. for more than 15 years—is they minimize or eliminate the need for reading glasses because they treat presbyopia. Presbyopia is the age-related loss of near vision that virtually everyone experience. The limitation of this choice, as the name monofocal indicates, is that the lens provides focus at only a single distance. Prescription glasses are needed to see at medium or far distances, including while driving.

Monofocal IOLs are the most common lens used during cataract surgery.

Multifocal IOLs

A multifocal IOL provides both distance and near focus at the same time. There are different types of multifocal IOLs, and your eye doctor may recommend using a different type in each eye. Multifocal IOLs allow us to customize cataract surgery today in ways that weren’t possible a few years ago. The type of IOL used really depends on a patient’s lifestyle and if vision at a certain distance is more important than at other distances. A multifocal lens adjusts focus at different distances but doesn’t necessarily provide the best clarity for distance vision.

Good Candidates for Multifocal IOLs

Patients considering multifocal IOLs should know that they are considered premium lenses and typically are not covered by insurance or Medicaid (which covers monofocal IOLs). Probably the most important factor in deciding if multifocal IOLs are right for you is whether you are willing to accept some compromise in the clarity of your distance vision for the convenience of being less dependent on computer glasses and/or reading glasses after cataract surgery. Additionally, patients with a pre-existing eye condition, such as macular degeneration, are probably better off choosing a monofocal lens for their cataract surgery.

It’s important that you consult with an experienced, board-certified ophthalmologist before undergoing cataract surgery so you understand the options in detail. You can contact us using the online form to request a consultation with our ophthalmologists in Queens or the Bronx or call one of our 3 locations to schedule an appointment. Call (718) 585-5500 (Bronx), (718) 206-2002 (Jamaica) or (718) 205-5050 (Jackson Heights).

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