What are the Types of IOLs and Which is the Best for You?

IOLsOne of the best benefits of technology is the choice that it offers. Custom can be a word that is full of opportunity or a word that is fraught with stress. When there are too many choices, it can make us feel overwhelmed.

This is not how it should be when choosing an intraocular lens (IOL) for cataract surgery. There are several options, but your eye doctor will be able to help you know what is best for your eye. Here is a brief description of each type of IOL and their basic features:

Monofocal Lens
A monofocal IOL is considered the traditional lens and is the least expensive. Its design is meant to correct one type of vision: distance, intermediate or near. Most people will choose to have clear, crisp distance vision and wear glasses for reading, computer work, sewing or other tasks that require close vision. Most insurance plans and Medicare will cover a monofocal IOL, so there may be no associated out-of-pocket expenses. This type of IOL is best if you are on a fixed budget and do not want any financial responsibility after your surgery or if you do not mind wearing glasses. If you have astigmatism (an irregularly shaped cornea) and choose a monofocal lens, you will most likely have to wear glasses all the time.

Toric Lens
There is a second IOL option for you if you have astigmatism. A toric lens is designed specifically for individuals with astigmatism. Cataract surgery can give you clearer vision than you have ever had before, and your doctor can even help reshape your cornea during the surgery. Small incisions called limbal relaxing incisions help to flatten the cornea and improve your eyesight. A toric lens will give you better distance vision, but you will still rely on contacts or glasses for near vision. This premium lens will likely require you to pay some out of pocket expenses because private insurance companies and Medicare will not fully cover this type of lens.

Multifocal or Accommodating Lens

If you are active and want to reduce or eliminate the need for glasses, you can accomplish this and have your cataracts removed in a single surgery. This IOL is definitely considered a luxury and not a medical necessity, so you would be financially responsible for part of this procedure, depending on your type of health insurance. A multifocal or accommodating lens would be best for you if you are an athlete, extremely active or if you are young to have developed cataracts.

Talk to your eye doctor to see what type of IOL is best for you. Sometimes, it all comes down to cost, but you should also consider what type of lens will be best for your eye condition and lifestyle. The IOL will be a permanent part of your eye, so be sure to weigh your options carefully!


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