Intraocular lenses are ones that doctors use when they perform cataract surgery. People who opt for the eye procedure can participate in the selection process for the best lens for eye doctors to use for the surgery. Lenses have strengths and weaknesses for someone’s lifestyle and vision preference.
Available IOL Lens Options
There are two benefits of having cataract surgery. The first is that following surgery, your vision should improve dramatically. Success rates of the procedure are higher than 90 percent.
The second benefit is that you get to make a choice about what kind of lens you prefer to have once the procedure is finished. A handful of lens options exist, and they have their strengths and weaknesses — from vision effect to cost to insurance coverage.
Here are options to consider about the intraocular lens your doctor can use for your surgery.
If you are looking for low-cost IOLs after cataract surgery, monofocal lenses are appropriate. The only issue is their limited range: you can only choose distance or near-vision, but not both. Most people who get cataract surgery get distance-vision monofocals and use reading glasses for close-up vision.
Multifocal IOLs work like bifocal or trifocal glasses. Lenses are split into zones, with varying focusing ranges to provide both distance and near vision.
Accommodative IOLs are premium solutions that provide dynamic vision range. During your implant surgery, your surgeon will integrate the lens with your eye’s muscles to provide optimal vision at all distances and a seamless transition between distance and near vision.
A toric IOL treats astigmatism, wherein imperfections in the shape of the eye inhibit your distance and near vision. On average, the lens costs $1,521.
Extended Depth-of-Focus (EDOF)
These are premium (more expensive IOLs) designed to provide a broader continuous range of vision like accommodative lenses. Unlike multifocals, EDOF IOLs only have one corrective zone to support distance and intermediate vision. A single point of focus makes treatment possible for many patients after cataract surgery.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Lens
The biggest things to consider when picking out a lens for your cataract surgery are cost, effectiveness, range of vision and any side effects.
Costs vary widely by type of IOL and the features/benefits offered. When selecting the best lens for your cataract surgery, research about its price as well as insurance coverage. Monofocal lenses are the most common and generally the cheapest of all IOLs.
An astigmatism IOL solves a different problem from a distance-vision multifocal. So, any refractive error before cataract surgery is the top consideration in determining the right IOL for the patient.
IOLs like accommodative and EDOF lenses provide an enhanced experience by providing continuous, dynamic vision range. With their broader focusing range, you get clear distant vision, which can adjust to focus on close-up objects without loss of image quality or clarity.
Potential side-effects should be a central focus of the pre-surgery discussions you have with your eye surgeon or ophthalmologist. Also, do your own research. Some types of IOLs may correct your vision but cause other issues like halos around lights or glare.
Which Lens Is Best for Me? (How to Decide)
First, identify the attributes and benefits of the various cataract surgery IOLs out there. It’ll be easier to select an option that best suits your lifestyle requirements or preferences.
If you’re nearsighted and you read a lot or work at a computer all day, you probably wouldn’t want to start relying on glasses to do those things after surgery. A near-vision monofocal IOL for close-up work and distance-vision glasses would be ideal in that case.
To eliminate or reduce your dependence on glasses, you may use monofocal lenses in a vision correction approach called “monovision.” One lens would allow you to see distant objects clearly, while the other would provide clear close-up vision.
You should avoid IOLs that could inhibit your vision, especially in dim light if you drive at night. Lenses like multifocals and EDOFs provide multiple focusing powers, but these can cause vision problems like halos around lights and glare.
Such side-effects make night-driving a bit unsafe for you and other road users.
Are IOLs Covered by Insurance?
Medicare considers cataract surgery a medically necessary procedure, so it covers the costs associated with it. The health plan will also pay for the monofocal IOL you get to restore your vision after cataract removal.
Most insurance companies approach cataract surgery coverage the same way as Medicare. They’ll pay for eye surgery and a conventional lens, but won’t cover the entire cost of the so-called premium IOLs.
You can still get an accommodating or multifocal IOL for your cataract surgery if you wish to reduce your dependence on reading or other types of prescription glasses. Your plan would likely cover the procedure and the amount it would cost to have a standard monofocal lens inserted in your eye.
You’d pay the extra lens implantation expenses out of pocket in that case.
Which lens is best for cataract surgery?
You should discuss your IOL lens options with your doctor before surgery and consider your lifestyle/vision correction requirements post-surgery. For example, if you do a lot of close-up work day-to-day, you may consider an IOL that provides near vision at minimum. Choose a monofocal lens to get full insurance coverage.
What are the three types of lenses for cataract surgery?
People who opt for cataract surgery can pick from different types of IOLs, such as:
- Presbyopic lenses like accommodating and multifocal IOLs that provide both distance and near vision.
- Monofocal lenses that can either repair nearsightedness or farsightedness, but not both vision disorders at a time.
- Astigmatism or toric IOLs for astigmatic patients seeking better vision for distant-vision tasks like driving and close-up activities like reading or working at a computer.
Medicare & Cataract Surgery Coverage. (2022). Medicare.
Should You Pick Standard or Premium Lenses When Having Cataract Surgery? (August 31, 2021). GoodRX Health.
Choose the Right Artificial Lens for Your Cataract Surgery. (July 14, 2021). Duke Health.
IOL Implants: Lens Replacement After Cataracts. (April 10, 2021). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Choosing an Artificial Lens for Cataract Surgery. (March 1, 2022). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
How Much Does Cataract Surgery Cost? UCF Health.
Last Updated July 6, 2022
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