Cataract surgery is a safe, effective outpatient procedure that causes visually significant complications in less than one in 1,000 cases. During the procedure, the clouded lens is replaced with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens, or IOL. An IOL is a clear, plastic lens that becomes a permanent part of your eye and does not require any care. The best feature of an IOL is that it is customizable to your visual needs and lifestyle.
June is Cataract Awareness Month, so let’s talk about your options in cataract surgery. There are three basic categories of IOLs:
- Monofocal lenses- Monofocal IOLs are the least expensive lens and they are usually covered by insurance or Medicare. Monofocal IOLs correct far, intermediate or near distance only. Most people choose distance vision, so they need glasses for reading and computer work. If you have astigmatism and choose a monofocal lens, you will have to wear glasses all the time.
- Toric IOLs- If you have astigmatism or an irregularly shaped cornea, you may benefit from a toric IOL. Toric lenses provide clear distance vision, but you probably will need glasses or contacts to read. During cataract surgery, your surgeon may put small incisions in your cornea called limbal relaxing incisions to reshape it.
- Multifocal IOL- Multifocal lenses are considered premium lenses because they offer the convenience of seeing near, far and intermediate without the aid of glasses or contacts. Insurance and Medicare do not cover the cost of multifocal lenses because they are considered a luxury and not medically necessary. However, it may be worth the money to choose a multifocal lens because you are making a lifelong investment in your vision.
Talk to your doctor about which IOL is right for you. After considering the results of comprehensive eye testing, he or she will be able to suggest the lens that will suit your vision needs.