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A Comparison Of Multifocal And Monofocal Lens Implants Used In Cataract Surgery

After deciding that you need cataract surgery, you have to decide where you should have your surgery, and who should be your surgeon. Once you’ve gone through these major decisions, your surgeon will hurl yet another decision at you!

You will now need to determine what kind of lens, called intraocular lens (IOL), you will want in your eye. Since this lens is permanent, and will last you a lifetime, it is best to arrive at this decision with care. But do not fret, here is a comparison Of Multifocal and Monofocal lens implants used in cataract surgery, to make the decision easier for you.

What are the kinds of lenses available for implant after cataract surgery?

There are two primary kind of lenses that you need to choose from.

  1. Monofocal IOLs: These lenses are the conventional IOLs which have been implanted since 1950s. As the name suggests, they correct your vision for one focus or distance only. You can choose to have good vision for distance, but that means you will need reading glasses.

  2. Multifocal IOLs: While a monofocal IOL provides focus only at one distance, a multifocal IOL can provide good vision across varying distances, without the need for glasses. This means that you can have good vision for near, distance as well as intermediate distances, usually without needing glasses, except for precision work. The multifocal IOLs refract or diffract, or both, the light from an object simultaneously to the far and near vision and part of this light disperses. Therefore, they are classified as refractive, diffractive, or combined.

What does a comparison of Multifocal and Monofocal lens implants used in cataract surgery tell us?

  • Complete freedom from glasses: The most important factor is the wow factor. You will have completely freedom from spectacles for both near or distance if you choose a Multifocal IOL. However, remember that you will need glasses for precise vision at both ends of the spectrum: near and distance for crystal clear focus. Monofocal IOL will mean that you will be completely dependent on your glasses for near work like reading and texting from the phone, and will require glasses for intermediate distances also, for example, using the computer.

  • Cost: Another important consideration is the cost. While Monofocal IOLs typically are fully covered by insurance, multifocal IOLs (like other premium IOLs) are not, and you have to pay the price difference out of pocket. Multifocal lenses typically are more expensive

  • Quality of Vision: Multifocal IOLs have been associated with more visual disturbances like glare, haloes and decreased contrast sensitivity. The newer generations of these IOLs are however, performing much better than their older counterparts. Some patients might also complain of poorer vision in dim light.

  • Contraindications: Multifocal IOLs are relatively contraindicated in patients with advanced glaucoma, optic neuropathies and advanced diabetic eye disease. In these patients, a Monofocal IOL is a better option. Your eye surgeon is the best judge of what will suit your eyes and visual needs best, following a comprehensive eye examination.

Verdict of the comparison between Multifocal and Monofocal IOLs following cataract surgery

Multifocal lenses are fast becoming more and more popular as people are ready to pay a higher price for a better quality of life and freedom from glasses. This is especially true for the younger patients, and those still young at heart, because almost every patient desires complete freedom from glasses following surgery.

The benefits of multifocal IOLs are self-explanatory, and it is actually monofocal lenses that require an explanation from the ophthalmologist because of the need for glasses even after cataract surgery. Apart from a very small subgroup of patients who may not be eligible for multifocal IOLs, they are definitely the better option for your eyes.


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