Let’s discuss the different types of lenses available for implantation at the time of cataract surgery.
Ok so let’s assume the only reason you can’t see well is because of cataracts. You now have to decide HOW you want to see after surgery.
- Do you mind wearing glasses full time?
- Do you want great DISTANCE vision and just need to wear readers?
- Do you want to have great NEAR vision and just need glasses for distance tasks like driving or watching movies?
- Do you want to have good distance AND near vision WITHOUT glasses?
- Decisions, decisions……..
Before making this decision, realize that you USE YOUR EYES EVERYDAY, ALL THE TIME WHILE YOU’RE AWAKE!!
Not every lens is for every patient so it’s an important conversation to have with your eye surgeon about which lens is the best option for your lifestyle. Disappointment happens when our expectations are not aligned with reality so make sure you have realistic expectations about how your vision will be after surgery before going into it.
Let’s break down the most common types of lenses and what you can expect from each one. Obviously you will need to have a more in-depth conversation with your surgeon before making a final decision but at least you will be knowledgable before your conversation.
Standard, Toric and Multifocal
Remember that the GOAL of a certain lens is not in the lens itself but what you are visually trying to achieve. What I mean by that is that you are wanting a certain OUTCOME from your surgery, you don’t necessarily care WHAT type of lens is used as long as it gets you the vision you want.
- STANDARD – Standard lenses are just that, standard. They are MONOFOCAL meaning that they are set for one focal range. They can be either set for DISTANCE or NEAR but not both. They also DO NOT treat any astigmatism (shape of the eye, we will cover that in a sec.). These lenses are generally covered by insurance and patients will most likely need glasses for distance and near (bifocals) after.
- TORIC – Toric lenses treat ASTIGMATISM. Astigmatism is the shape of the cornea (remember the front part of the eye). In theory, the cornea should be perfectly round like a dome but in reality, because of embryonic development, the cornea is oblong, STEEPER on one side than it is another. Instead of being shaped like a BASKETBALL the cornea is shaped more like a FOOTBALL. Astigmatism causes a blur that looks like a doubled shadow, instead of an object appearing nice and sharp its slightly blurred with a shadowed image off to the side. The more the astigmatism the more pronounced the shadowed image. Most people have SOME degree of astigmatism, not all astigmatism needs to be treated. Toric lenses are also MONOFOCAL so their use is to sharpen the DISTANCE or NEAR vision as much as possible without having to use any glasses
In my practice, Toric lenses are a personal favorite, they work incredibly well and offer. some of the best uncorrected vision after cataract surgery. Toric lenses are NOT covered by insurance.
- MULTIFOCAL – Mutlifocal lenses are the Cadillac or Mercedes (whatever your preference) of lenses. They are designed in such a way as to allow DISTANCE, INTERMEDIATE and NEAR vision without glasses. This is the lens for patients who have a high demand for glasses independence. There are a number of different types of multifocal lenses but they all function very similarly. Here’s the catch, with multifocal lenses (and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise), they aren’t perfect. I will dedicate a little time to multifocal lenses along with other methods of being free from glasses after surgery. Multifocal lenses are not covered by insurance.