Once the cloudy human lens is removed, an intraocular lens (called an IOL) is inserted in it's place. IOL's - smaller in diameter than a dime - are made from thin flexible acrylic and are designed to last your entire lifetime without problem. IOL's have an optical power -- like glasses or contacts -- and help patients see clearly. In fact, many patients have much less reliance on glasses after surgery thanks to their IOL's.
There are three types of IOL's:
Standard IOL's - which are used for for the great majority of patients across the US, permit the patient to see clearly at one focal plane. This provides great clarity for each eye at either distance or near (not both). As these lenses are typically focused on sharp distance viewing, patients with Standard IOL's should expect to need bifocals or readers for near vision. Also Standard IOL's do not correct for pre-existant astigmatism.
Toric IOL's - If a patient has an astigmatism -- which is a steepened curvature of the eye -- standard IOL's cannot correct this and they will need astigmatism correction placed in the spectacles after surgery. Toric IOL's are made of the same material as Standard IOL's but they have the astigmatic correction built into the lens. This can help provide better correction of the astigmatism at the time of surgery, offering clearer vision without glasses for those with astigmatism.
Multifocal IOL's -- If a patient wishes not to be reliant on reading glasses, multifocal IOL's can reduce the need for glasses for many near tasks. These IOL's have a series of concentric rings that allow simultaneous viewing for both distance and most near tasks. Patients with multifocal IOL's may still need reading glasses at times but their design allows more close up vision than Standard IOL's. It is important to carefully consider these lenses as the concentric rings can sometimes cause a sense of glare and mild distortion with night driving.
It is critical to understand that surgeons can never guarantee that any patient -- with a Standard, Toric or Multifocal IOL -- may be free of glasses. Why? When we determine your IOL power and perform cataract removal, there can be biologic variabilities and uncertainties that might affect the final refraction. While we always try to reduce patients' needs for glasses, you may find you still require glasses after surgery.
Patients receiving Standard IOL's will find that their insurance will cover their implants without any additional out-of-pocket costs beyond copays and deductibles.
Toric and Multifocal IOL's are considered Premium lenses and carry extra costs as insurance policies do not generally pay for them.
Our office will be happy to discuss the potential benefits, risks and costs with you regarding your IOL at your pre-operative visit.