An intraocular lens, or IOL, is a clear, plastic lens that becomes a permanent part of the eye and requires no care. Based on test results, a surgeon will recommend the best IOL for each individual patient. The three types of IOL are monofocal, multifocal and astigmatism correcting.
Monofocal lenses 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, mid-range 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: Monofocal 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 Correcting Lens
Astigmatism is a very common vision condition that causes blurred vision due to the irregular shape of the cornea. Depending on how the cornea is shaped, a toric intraocular lens can be used to correct astigmatism.
Toric lenses are generally used for higher levels of astigmatism, since lower levels can often be corrected with incisions made in the cornea, changing the shape of the eye. These are called limbal relaxing incisions (LRIs), and can be made by hand with a blade or with a laser. Depending on the degree of astigmatism, your surgeon may recommend a toric IOL, 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 Extended Depth of Focus Lens
Multifocal and extended depth of focus IOLs are designed to help you see near, far and in between with as minimal glasses or contact lens use as possible. Studies show 80-90 percent of patients who have this type of lens do not have to wear glasses post-procedure, with the remaining 10-20 percent needing glasses for distance vision.
- Pro: Multifocal and extended depth of focus IOLs offer the best chance to see both near and far without wearing glasses or contact lenses.
- Con: This is the most expensive lens choice. Most insurance does not cover the additional expense of these lenses.