Cataract surgery, which involves removing the eye’s cloudy lens and replacing it with a clear, artificial lens, is a common operation. But patients still have a lot of questions. One of the most common is “Will I need a new eyeglass prescription after surgery?” The answer is that it depends. It depends on both your vision pre-surgery and which type of replacement lens you choose.
There are several different types of lenses, also known as intraocular lenses, or IOLs. Many of the premium IOLs can indeed reduce the need for glasses post surgery, but most people will continue to wear eyeglasses, at least some of the time.
So what are the different types of IOLs and what kind of vision correction do they offer?
This is the most common type of IOL. Monofocal lenses offer clear vision at a single focal point, or as the name mono implies – only one distance. The lens is designed for either close, intermediate or distance vision. Most people have their monofocal IOL set for distance vision. Therefore, reading glasses may still be needed to see up close.
This type of lens does provide a few different focusing distances within the same lens so some people who choose this type of IOL may find that they do not need to wear glasses after surgery. However, with a multifocal IOL, there is sometimes a tradeoff in quality of vision. For example a patient who chooses a monofocal lens might have clearer distance vision than a patient who chooses a multifocal lens.
There may also be some issues with seeing glare and halos around lights after dark, which can make night driving difficult. Each person is different, but some people may still need to wear glasses, at least some of the time, with a multifocal IOL.
Toric IOLs (both toric monofocal IOLs and toric multifocal IOLs) are designed for astigmatism, thus can correct this refractive error caused by an irregularly shaped cornea. Toric monofocal and toric multifocal IOLs provide similar advantages and disadvantages as standard monofocal and multifocal IOLs, however are designed for astigmatism specifically. Patients may still need to rely on reading glasses or contact lenses for near and intermediate range vision depending on which lens you choose.
Accommodating IOLs are designed to provide similar distance vision to monofocal IOL, but they move or “accommodate” when looking at near objects to bring them into focus, providing a greater range of vision. Some people find that their need for reading glasses is reduced after surgery, but they may still require them to see very small print and perform other near vision tasks.
Extended Depth of Focus (EDOF) IOLs
These IOLs are designed to provide a full range of vision from near to far, with the goal of providing clear vision across all distances. In most cases, these lenses help minimize or eliminate the need for glasses after cataract surgery. There are several new IOLs currently under development and in clinical trials, with the hope of improving vision at every distance.
The IC-8 lens, which is currently available in some countries, uses small aperture technology, the same principle used in photography, to provide excellent far, mid-range and near vision, thus reducing the need for glasses post cataract surgery. Learn more about the IC-8 lens here.
It’s useful to note that there are multiple IOLs in every category, and each one has its own benefits and risks. It’s important to talk with your doctor about your lifestyle and specific vision needs. He or she can help you choose the right IOL for you.
So, back to the question, “Will I need a new eyeglass prescription after cataract surgery?” The answer is maybe. But, you are likely to experience an improvement in both your vision and ability to perform tasks prior to cataract surgery.