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This article was updated in February of 2020, with the latest data on newly FDA-approved lens options.

It depends on your eyes, and on the cataract surgery choices you make.

Cataracts are a clouding of the lens in the front of your eye.  During cataract surgery, your clouded lens is removed and replaced an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens, or IOL.  The lens you and your surgeon select to implant during cataract surgery plays a big part in your need for glasses after surgery.

Here’s a quick overview of your lens options before we go into more depth.

Lens TypeClear Distance VisionClear Up-Close VisionCorrects AstigmatismCovered by MedicareOut Of Pocket Costs
MonoFocal---
Toric--
Standard MultiFocal--
Symfony MultiFocal-
PanOptix Multifocal-

MonoFocal Lenses – Clear Vision at Distance

A MonoFocal lens is the “standard” lens used in many cataract surgeries.  It’s designed to remove the cataract clouding your eyes, and give you clear vision at a single distance.

That means that if you and your surgeon choose cataract surgery with a MonoFocal lens,  it’s likely afterwords you’ll have clear vision at a distance, but still need to use reading glasses for close up vision when you’re reading, using a computer or doing other close tasks.

The exception is patients with astigmatism, who will still need to wear glasses to correct their astigmatism after cataract surgery with MonoFocal lenses.

The cost of MonoFocal lenses when implanted with cataract surgery is covered by Medicare, and most commercial insurance plans.

Toric Lenses – Clear Vision For Patients With Astigmatism

Toric lenses are a type of IOL that allows your surgeon to correct cataracts and astigmatism in a single surgery.  If you have astigmatism, it’s likely that you’ve needed to wear glasses or contacts for quite some time to correct your astigmatism.

If you choose cataract surgery with a Toric, astigmatism correcting IOL, it’s likely that you’ll be able to see clearly at a distance without glasses after your surgery.  You’ll still need reading glasses for close-up tasks like reading, but many Toric IOL patients are thrilled to go from needing to wear glasses or contacts all the time, to just needing glasses or contacts for close up tasks.

Cataract surgery with Toric lenses requires an out-of-pocket charge in addition to the costs covered by Medicare and most commercial insurance programs.

MultiFocal Lenses – Clear Close and Distance Vision

Multifocal cataract lenses are designed to give you clear vision across a range of distances.  In studies, between 60% and 88% of patients who have cataract surgery with a MultiFocal lens report that they never wear glasses.  For cataract patients who value their ability to see clearly at a range of distances without glasses, a MultiFocal IOL can be a great option.

It’s helpful to understand that providing clear vision at a range of distances with MultiFocal lenses can be a bit of a compromise.  For example, a patient who selects a MonoFocal IOL might have slightly clearer distance vision than a patient who selects a MultiFocal IOL.  However, the patient who selects a MonoFocal will definitely need reading glasses for close-up tasks, while the MultiFocal patient has a good chance of being completely independent from glasses.

Like Torics, MultiFocal lenses require an out of pocket charge in addition to the cataract surgery costs covered by Medicare and most commercial insurance programs.

MultiFocal Toric Lenses – A Close & Distance Vision for Patients With Astigmatism

In the past, patients with astigmatism didn’t have a good option for a multifocal lens that also corrected astigmatism.  But there are now at least two lenses on the market that combine Toric and multifocal capabilities in a single lens. In July of 2016, the FDA approved the Tecnis Symfony.  The Symfony is designed to correct cataracts, astigmatism and offer clear vision without glasses at a range of distances.

In studies, about 85% of Synfony patients report wearing glasses little to none of the time, and less than 8% report any issues with haloes, nighttime glare or starbursts.  At Moscow Family Eye Care, we were one of the first cataract surgery clinics in our area to offer the Symfony as an option to our patients.  It can be a great option for patients with astigmatism, who would like to minimize their dependence on glasses after cataract surgery.

In August of 2019, the AcrySof IQ PanOptix IOL was approved by the FDA, which is a multifocal lens that’s available in both spherical (for patients without astigmatism) and toric (for patients with astigmatism) configurations. Again, our eye surgeon Dr. Hoehn was one of the first surgeons in the region to offer this technology.

Like Torics and Multi-Focals, the Symfony and PanOptix both require an out of pocket in addition in addition to the cataract surgery costs covered by medicare and most commercial insurance programs.

The PanOptix Multifocal – An Exciting New Option

We’re giving the newly released AcrySof® IQ PanOptix® IOL multifocal lens its own section here for two reasons. First, because it really does represent a new, meaningful advance in cataract lens technologies that help patients reduce their need for glasses after surgery. Second, because our cataract surgeon Dr. Hoehn has had such a positive early experience with it.

The PanOptix by Alcon earned its FDA approval in the United States in late August, 2019. In its own manufacturer-sponsored studies, Alcon found that 99% of patients who chose a PanOptix lens would choose the same lens again, 98% would recommend it to family and friends, and when surveyed 80.5% of PanOptix patients reported that they hadn’t used glasses within the past week.

The company calls the PanOptix the “first and only trifocal lens in the United States.” While there’s certainly some marketing going on there, our own patients have had very positive results from the PanOptix. Our eye surgeon, Dr. Hoehn, started utilizing the PanOptix in the winter of 2019-2020. So far her patients have been thrilled, and reported a significant reduction in their reliance on glasses after cataract surgery.

Find Your Best Option

If your goal is living life after cataract surgery without glasses, you have some great options and we’d be happy to help.  Just get in touch with our surgical concierge, and we’ll help you find the best option for your vision.

Contact our surgical concierge at (208) 882-3434, or make an appointment online.