INTRA-OCULAR LENSES (IOLs)
When the cloudy cataract lens is removed from the eye, and a new clear artificial plastic lens is put back in its place, this can dramatically improve the patient’s clarity of vision. What many dont realize is that the new replacement lens, or Intra-Ocular Lens (IOL), actually has a visual PRESCRIPTION right on the lens! This means that with cataract surgery, not only can a person clear up their hazy vision, they can also reduce or even eliminate their need for glasses at the same time!
3 types of IOLs are Standard monofocal IOLs, Astigmatism-Correcting IOLs, and Presbyopia-Correcting IOLs.
Standard Monofocal IOLs
Monofocal IOLs have been the standard of care for cataract surgery for many years, and have a great track record. Their cost is covered by Medicare and other insurance companies as part of the cost of Cataract surgery.
As the name ‘mono-focal’ suggests, these lenses can correct an eye for one type of focus. When used to fix a person’s distance prescription, these lenses can greatly reduce or even eliminate the need for distance glasses after cataract surgery. After surgery with Monofocal IOLs, patients will then likely need full-time reading glasses. In addition, for patients with a prescription issue called Astigmatism, Monofocal IOLs may not be able to fix either the distance or near prescriptions fully. This patient likely will need full time glasses for both distance and near vision after cataract surgery.
Advantages of Monofocal IOLs are that they can provide excellent vision for far and near in patients who don’t mind wearing glasses after surgery, and their cost is covered as part of the cost of Cataract surgery. For patients who don’t have Astigmatism, there is a good chance that the Monofocal IOL patient may not even need distance glasses after surgery.
Astigmatism-Correcting IOLs – Fix Far vision and Astigmatism at the same time
Astigmatism is a prescription issue caused by an irregular shape of the eye. While we think of eyes as being perfectly round, like a basketball, eyes with Astigmatism are ‘football shaped’. This shape is actually very common, and has the effect of causing blurry, wavy or distorted vision. Glasses or contact lenses can fix these issues and sharpen vision in eyes with Astigmatism.
Because Standard IOLs don’t fix astigmatism in cataract surgery patients, the left over astigmatism after getting a Standard IOL will cause many patients to still need full time glasses.
Astigmatism-Correcting IOLs (called Toric IOLs) have been used in the United States since 2005. These IOLs are able to permanently fix a patient’s astigmatism prescription at the time of their cataract surgery. This breakthrough has allowed cataract patients with astigmatism to greatly reduce their need for distance glasses after surgery. In fact, one study showed that 97% of patients with astigmatism who had these lenses placed in both eyes never needed distance glasses again!
Presbyopia is the condition that causes people to gradually lose their near vision over time, usually requiring the need for reading glasses or bifocals starting in a person’s mid-40s. Because cataract surgery with a Standard Monofocal lens does not fix Presbyopia, patients who correct their distance during cataract surgery with a Monofocal IOL need reading glasses or bifocals afterwards.
Presbyopia-Correcting IOLs have been used in the United States since 2005. The goal of these IOLs is to provide the patient with excellent distance AND near vision, at the same time. Currently the most commonly used types are the Mulitifocal IOLs (Acrysof Restor® and AMO Tecnis Multifocal®) and the Accomodative IOLs (Bausch and Lomb Crystalens®). Each of these IOLs works a little differently, and each has pros and cons (including possible side effects). They all can provide people with a greatly reduced need for distance and near glasses, and some people can even get rid of their distance and near glasses all together.
Studies show that over 80% of Multifocal IOL patients reported never needing glasses again, for either distance or near. Furthermore, although there can be side effects to these IOLs, studies also show that roughly 95% of patients would happily have these IOLs in their eyes again.
Paying for your Intra-Ocular Lenses
Medicare and Insurance typically covers the cost of Cataract surgery with the Standard Monofocal IOL. If you would like to take advantage of the Astigmatism-Correcting or Presbyopia-Correcting IOLs, the procedure will still be covered, but you will be responsible for additional fees for these lenses. Dr. Goldstick will be happy to discuss the costs of these IOLs with you, as well as payment options.
Deciding on the best IOL for YOU
Depending on the results of your examination, Dr. Goldstick will help you make the best decision to suit your personal visual needs. Regardless of the IOL you choose, all of the above options will help you see very well, so there is no wrong choice.