Artificial lenses (IOLs) are implanted in the eye to replace natural lenses for patients with cataracts, presbyopia or severe refractive errors. Until recently, Lenses were only available to correct distance vision. These monofocal lenses helped improve distance vision after cataract surgery, but patients still needed glasses or contact lenses for near vision activities like reading and playing cards. Now, advancements in technology have produced multifocal Lenses that allow patients to see clearly at all distances -- near, far and many distances in between.         

 

If you have been diagnosed as having cataracts and are experiencing one or more of the following vision problems, you may be a candidate for a multifocal Lenses:

 

  • Difficulty reading, Difficulty seeing close objects, Difficulty driving, especially at night, Frequent changes in glasses prescription, Need for bifocals

 

Advantages of Multifocal Lenses

 

Up to 80% of patients who use the multifocal lens don't need to rely on glasses or contact lenses after surgery. Multifocal lenses improve vision at near, far, and intermediate distances. Many people who used to wear corrective lenses no longer need them after having multifocal lenses during cataract surgery. They can see far away and easily work on the computer without their glasses or contact lenses.

 

Unlike contact lenses and glasses that require new prescriptions on a yearly basis, most patients receive lasting results with these lenses. Because these lenses are planted in the eye, no upkeep is required. That means that you do not have to soak them like contacts or replace them after getting scratched, as you would with glasses. That can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

 

Disadvantages of Multifocal Lenses

Like with all innovative technologies, there are also a few things to consider when choosing a trifocal lens.

  • If you suffer from eye diseases, such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration, you may not be a suitable candidate for multifocal lenses. These diseases, even in early stages, may be incompatible with premium intraocular lenses. If you suffer from one of these diseases, you can discuss alternative options with your ophthalmologist.

 

There are some disadvantages that you need to keep in mind, as well. Weigh these disadvantages against the advantages before moving forward with cataract surgery. That way, you will not face any surprises after having lens replacement surgery. While multifocal lenses improve near, far, and intermediate vision, many people still have difficulty seeing up close. Although they can see the computer screen, their vision is blurry when trying to read a book. However, this can be corrected with reading glasses.

 

Light phenomena

 

One side effect connected with multifocal IOLs is a higher degree of visual disturbances and light phenomena (dysphotopsia), which are caused by the lens focusing light from multiple distances. These are normally perceived as

  • Glare in certain low lighting situations

  • Halos, starbursts around light sources at night 

 

Most people with multifocal lenses find these phenomena only mildly disturbing and get used to them over time. However, there is also a small group of patients who do not adapt to this type of IOL lenses well or are very bothered by the side effects that may occur, which can make driving at night difficult. If you plan to drive at night, especially if you expect to drive often, you might be better off getting a monofocal lens replacement.

 

Decreased contrast sensitivity

 

Another consequence of the multifocality is a slightly less perfect image quality. This is due to the lens splitting light from different distances on the retina. Therefore, patients have to compromise a little on the image quality to gain the multifocal effect.

This makes reading in dim light difficult. Of course, it is important to understand that you should never read in dim light anyway. This is not good for your eyes, and obviously, you want to protect your vision as much as possible. Therefore, be sure to turn the lights on whenever you read. Of course, you may not have this option in every scenario, such as trying to read a menu in a dimly lit restaurant.

 

Most insurers are less likely to pay all of the costs associated with multifocal lenses since they are more expensive than monofocal lenses. Typically, insurance companies cap the amount of payment at the cost of a monofocal lens. That means that you can expect some out-of-pocket expenses if you move forward with a multifocal lens.

 

If you are still unsure which lens is right for you, your surgeon can perform an eye examination and help you decide which option best suits your needs. From there, you can move forward with your surgery feeling confident, knowing that you are getting the lens replacement that fits your lifestyle.

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