Cataracts are a common eye condition in older people, affecting an estimated 50 percent of Americans over age 80. A cataract clouds the natural lens of the eye and impairs vision; treatment involves removing the affected lens through refractive surgery and replacing it with a new one. For years, doctors used single focal implants, also called monofocal intraocular lenses or IOLs, which addressed only vision at a distance and not near vision.
To see clearly close-up, patients typically needed corrective lenses such as eyeglasses. Today, however, doctors also use multifocal lens implants. These implants allow patients to see clearly both at close range and at a distance, which is why many doctors and patients choose them.
Multifocal IOLs use several concentric rings to enhance vision both close up and far away. These rings allow for the focusing of light in several areas all at the same time, making it easier for patients to see at varying distances.
With traditional monofocal lens implants, many patients require glasses to see clearly at close range. With multifocal lens implants, a majority of patients see improved visual acuity at close range and don’t need corrective lenses after the implant surgery. This is a definite advantage for anyone who doesn’t like the hassle of wearing glasses or contact lenses, or for anyone who’s very active and for whom wearing glasses might interfere with physical activities such as swimming or other active pursuits.
Multifocal intraocular lenses don’t correct astigmatism. Multifocal lenses are meant for people with good eye health aside from the cataracts, and so aren’t recommended for people with glaucoma, macular degeneration and other eye diseases. Also, multifocal lenses cost more than the traditional single lens implants and aren’t fully covered by most insurance providers. However, for many patients they’re a solid financial investment that allow them to get the most out of their vision — and their lives.
Some cataract patients are better suited for multifocal lens implants than others. For example, there is some loss of clarity and contrast with multifocal lenses, which can present a problem with night vision. Some patients also experience a glare or halo.
In addition, you won’t achieve 20/20 vision with multifocal lenses and may require additional vision correction solutions. But while you lose some sharpness you gain the ability to see at a wide range of vision distances plus the comfort of not having to wear glasses.
If you’re considering lens replacement after cataract surgery, contact St. Louis-based Galanis Cataract & Laser Eye Center for more information about the benefits of multifocal lens implants. Our knowledgeable and friendly staff can help you determine if multifocal lenses are right for you and educate you on what to expect during and after lens replacement surgery.