When your cataract is removed, a new lens is placed inside of your eye. This makes cataract surgery an exciting time, because patients who had been nearsighted or farsighted can now be made to have excellent vision without glasses, even if they’ve needed glasses their whole lives
Twenty years ago all patients receive the same type of lens with their cataract surgery. Over the past two decades, new lens technologies have allowed eye surgeons to restore youthful, healthy vision to their patients. These lens options can give you additional benefits, but also more choices that need to be made in determining your lens implant type. Because of these multiple options, lens selection can be a confusing process. The problem with intraocular lenses inserted with cataract surgery is that there is no way to try them before surgery to see which one you like the best. Choosing a cataract lens depends on many personal factors, including:
What activities do you do during the day and which ones would you like to do without glasses if possible?
Are you able to pay extra money for a lens that does more than the standard lens covered by your insurance company?
At what distances would you like to see most clearly without glasses – near (reading), intermediate (computer screen), or far (driving)?
In order to determine the power of the lens implant, a series of eye measurements is performed. These measurements are then used in complex mathematical equations to calculate the ideal power of your new lens.
You and Dr. Levine will work together to determine the perfect lens for you. Currently, the following types of lenses are available…
Standard lens (monofocal) – This basic lens delivers excellent vision at only one distance. The focal point or distance maximum clarity can be set to distance (driving, golfing, watching TV), intermediate (grocery store shelves, computer, car dashboard), or near (reading, hobbies). There are no extra out-of-pocket costs with a standard lens.
Multifocal lens (Symfony lens) – Designed to reduce or eliminate your need for eyeglasses for both distance and near vision, this lens gives you clear vision at all distances. This is an advanced technology lens and is not fully covered by insurance so there would be an extra payment for this lens.
Toric lens – Designed to treat astigmatism and deliver excellent vision at a single distance. This special lens is also not fully covered by insurance.
Monovision or blended vision – this implant technique uses a standard monofocal lens with a different power in each eye so that you don’t have to use glasses for most of your daily activities. Your dominant eye is generally set for distance, and the other eye is set for near. Many people successfully use monovision with contact lenses. Successful monovision requires cataract surgery to each eye. Not everyone adapts to monovision, and glasses may still be needed.
Am I a good candidate for a Multifocal Lens?
With a standard monofocal lens implant, the vision will be very clear in the distance but very blurry up at intermediate and close distances. That means you will need glasses to see your speedometer, computer, cell phone, watch, menu, reading, and even need glasses for seeing the food on your plate. Multifocal lenses were developed to solve this problem and to allow patients to see well at several distances WITHOUT GLASSES after cataract surgery. Multifocal lenses offer benefits above and beyond those of standard lenses. They are not covered by insurance and require an additional out-of-pocket expense. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the following considerations when determining whether a multifocal lens is right for you.
Visual needs should also be considered when deciding on a multifocal lens. The technology contained in these lenses that allows you to read without glasses may lead to mild symptoms such as glare, halos, or decreased contrast sensitivity in certain conditions, such as night driving or dim restaurant lighting. Some patients rarely notice visual effects related to the lens implant. Others notice the effects but are not significantly bothered by them, and find that they improve with time. If you feel you would not be able to adapt to these visual symptoms, you probably are not an ideal candidate for a multifocal lens.
Motivation to not wear glasses should also be determined when selecting a multifocal lens. These lenses are designed for patients who are motivated to not have to wear glasses after their cataract surgery. Some patients are accustomed to wearing glasses and do not mind using them after surgery. The additional cost of a multifocal lens would not be a reasonable investment for these patients. For other patients, eliminating the need for glasses is a strong desire. Paying the additional out-of-pocket cost for a special lens would make much more sense for these patients, as these lenses would give them the best option to achieve their goal to be free from glasses.
In summary, ideal candidates for multifocal lenses are patients with healthy eyes, motivation to be less dependent on eyeglasses or contact lenses, and willingness to adapt to minor visual effects from the lens. Patients selecting a multifocal lens can reasonably expect to have good vision for reading and driving. Because no current technology is perfect there may still be circumstances where glasses are required to achieve comfortable vision.
How much do multifocal lens cost?
The average charge across the country for a multifocal lens implant is around $2500. This may seem expensive, but remember: this lens will be used for the rest of your life, and you only have one opportunity to choose the best lens at the time of your surgery. Financing plans are available if you would like to pay for the lens over a period of several years. With these low-cost options, you may be able to pay as little as a two or three dollars a day for your new lens.
Tell me more about astigmatism!
To review, astigmatism means that the cornea or front window of your eye has an oblong shape and curvature similar to a football. A normal cornea has a more round shape similar to a basketball. People with astigmatism do not have clear vision unless they are wearing glasses or contact lenses. During cataract surgery, astigmatism can be treated, resulting in clearer vision. Many people who have astigmatism treated during their cataract surgery can see clearly without glasses for the first time in their life. Low amounts of astigmatism are treated with corneal incisions (limbal relaxing incisions). Using a calibrated diamond blade, very small incisions are placed in the cornea to change the shape of the cornea. Larger amounts of astigmatism are corrected by implanting a special intraocular lens, called a toric lens. Astigmatism treatments are considered by most insurance companies to be an elective component in addition to the cataract procedure and therefore have additional out-of-pocket costs. This generally ranges from $500-$1500 depending on the treatment required.