An IOL is a clear, plastic lens that requires no care and becomes a permanent part of the eye. Based on test results, a surgeon will recommend the best IOL for each individual patient. The three types of IOL are traditional, toric and multifocal.
Traditional Monofocal IOLs
Traditional IOLs are monofocal, meaning they offer vision at one distance only (far, intermediate or near). The doctor will help decide whether it’s most important for a patient to see up close or at a distance without glasses. If the patient chooses the distance option, glasses will likely still be required for reading and computer work.
Pro: Traditional IOLS are the least expensive lenses, and Medicare or insurance usually covers the cost.
Con: If you have astigmatism and choose a monofocal lens, you may still need to wear glasses all the time.
Astigmatism is a very common vision condition that causes blurred vision due either to the irregular shape of the cornea or the curvature of the lens inside the eye.
Toric Monofocal IOLs
Toric IOLs can also be used to correct astigmatism, depending on how the cornea is shaped. In addition to replacing the lens, many surgeons make small incisions in the cornea – called limbal relaxing incisions (LRI) – to help reshape it. Depending on the degree of astigmatism, your surgeon may recommend a toric IOL or an LRI or both.
Pro: Toric lenses generally provide clear distance vision. For some people, toric lenses give them the crispest vision of their life.
Con: You will likely need glasses or contact lenses to read. Also, you will likely have to pay an extra fee for either a toric IOL or an LRI.
Multifocal and Accommodating IOLS
Multifocal and Accommodating IOLs are designed to help patients see near, far and in between without glasses or contact lenses. Around age 40, most people lose the ability to focus our eyes on nearby objects.
Pro: Multifocal and Accommodating IOLs offer the best chance to see both near and far without wearing glasses or contact lenses.
Con: These are the most expensive lens choice. Most insurance does not cover the additional expense of these lenses.
Learn more about IOL choices at Your Sight Matters.