It is estimated that 20.5 million Americans have cataracts, which is about one in every six individuals over the age of 40. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss, but they are treatable through surgery. In an outpatient procedure, your eye surgeon can remove your cataract and replace the lens with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) that is customized to your vision needs.
IOLs have been safely and successfully implanted routinely since the 1970s. Today, new technology and designs offer a multitude of options for IOLs. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by your choices, think of all the possibilities that are available to you in being able to select a lens that suits your activity level and lifestyle.
Here are the basic types of IOLs from which you can choose:
- Monofocal lens—Monofocal lenses improve vision at one distance: far, intermediate or near. It is most common for individuals to want improved distance vision, which means that they still will need to wear glasses for reading. This is the least expensive IOL, and it is usually covered by Medicare and private insurance companies. If you have astigmatism and choose to have a monofocal IOL, you will likely need to wear glasses at all times.
- Astigmatism-correcting monofocal lens—Depending on the shape of your cornea, you may be a candidate for an astigmatism-correcting monofocal lens. This toric lens corrects astigmatism and cataracts in a single procedure. After surgery, you may still need glasses or contact lenses for reading. Toric lenses are considered a premium lens, which means that you will be responsible for additional costs because this lens is considered a luxury and not a necessity.
- Multifocal lens—Around the age of 40, most adults notice a change in their ability to focus on nearby objects. If you wear glasses or contacts for distance vision and your near vision is diminishing, you may want to consider a mulitifocal lens. In some cases, this IOL can eliminate your need for eyeglasses because they help improve near, distance and intermediate vision. A multifocal lens is considered a premium lens, so you will be responsible for additional costs.
Talk to your eye surgeon about which IOL he or she suggests for your vision. Cost will also factor into your decision, so call your insurance company to verify your benefits and estimated out-of-pocket expenses.