Treatment Options for Cataracts: Intraocular Lens (IOL)

Treatment Options for Cataracts: Intraocular Lens (IOL)

If the symptoms associated with your cataract – like blurry vision – are infringing on your life and everyday activities, your physician will likely recommend cataract surgery. After the decision has been made as to which procedure would be best for your situation, the surgeon will next discuss your options for intraocular lenses (IOLs). 

Monofocal IOLs

For many years, the only available option was a mono-vision IOL. Although improvements in distance vision were substantial, this type of IOL was unable to correct near vision, which meant that patients still required reading glasses. Today, mono-vision IOLs remain an available option for either near or far distances; however, the disadvantages are clear.

Multifocal IOLs

Recent advances in ophthalmological science have led to the development of premium IOLs that can be categorized into two groups: multi-focal IOLS and accommodating IOLs.

As the name suggests, multi-focal IOLs enable vision at different distances. When opting for a multi-focal IOL, choosing the right cataract surgeon can be crucial because these IOLs require extremely precise placement. Despite their advantages, these IOLs can still result in some visual problems like halos or glares, particularly at night time.  Also, because the lens is designed like a target – with rings that are comparable in function to bifocals or trifocals, some of which are designated to improve distance vision whereas others are for near vision – some patients may have difficulty adjusting to these lenses.

Accommodating IOLs

Currently, the only FDA-approved accommodating IOL is the Crystalens, which is made by Bausch & Lomb. Like the other premium IOLs, Crystalens is also able to enhance vision at multiple ranges. The primary difference between multi-focal IOLs and the Crystalens accommodating IOL is that Crystalens adjusts to (i.e., “accommodates”) the motion of the eye muscles, which means that the lens is constantly changing focus with the changes in your eye. In other words, this flexible lens provides a continuous vision range. Crystalens is also being used in the treatment of presbyopia, a condition that occurs when the focusing ability of the lens decreases.

Which IOL is Right for You?

You and your doctor will need to discuss your options for IOLs. Some patients may feel more comfortable with a standard mono-focal IOL despite the inconvenience of having a pair of glass on hand at all times. Others may prefer to try a new method that offers the potential for more flexibility and freedom. Ask your surgeon to explain any risks and benefits for each type of lens that you do not understand during your evaluation.

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