What Are the Best Lenses for Cataract Surgery 2023?

What Are the Best Lenses for Cataract Surgery 2023?

May 25, 2023

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As we age, it's only logical that our eyesight is also impacted. Many adults seek cataract surgery to help clear the clouded and distorted vision that can impact one or both eyes, as we age. If you're looking for cataract surgery lens options, you're in the right place. Thanks to technological advancements in the lenses used during cataract surgery, the need to wear glasses such as reading glasses after surgery, has significantly decreased over the years.

Now, there is laser-assisted surgery and many artificial intraocular lens options at your disposal. Knowing that there are so many cataract lens options available to you, you might have questions about which is the best for you. Let's explore some different cataract replacement lens options, including IOLs, to see which is best for you.

How Are IOLs Used?

cataract surgery lens options

Your eye's natural lens adjusts to incoming light which helps to focus the image onto the retina. The collection of light-sensitive cells is then sent to your brain,forming an image, allowing you to see. When cataracts develop on top of this lens,the vision becomes cloudy, distorted, and colors can appear faded and dull. The only way to improve vision affected by cataracts is through cataract surgery.

IOL refers to the intraocular lens that is used to replace your natural lens, this is the replacement lens that is put in place during cataract surgery. There are many artificial lens options for you to consider and they each serve a similar function to the natural lens that has been removed.

What Are IOLs Made Of?

Each of the  lenses used for cataract replacement is made from slightly different options, but the most common ones include plastic compositions, silicone, or acrylic. Some are even coated with a special material to prevent damage from the sun's ultraviolet rays.

What Are Cataract Surgery Lens Options?

cataract lens types

All of the lens options used during the cataract surgery procedure, will result in an extended depth of focus and clearer vision. Any refractive error you had prior to surgery, you will have after, for example if you were nearsighted, you will still be nearsighted after surgery.  Fortunately, the replacement lens used during cataract surgery, can correct for existing refractive errors.

What Is a Standard IOL?

Monofocal lenses are considered to be the standard IOLs and they are often included in the overall cost of surgery depending on your insurance coverage. The power of the lens used during cataract surgery will be based on the specific strength that you require. As the name implies, a monofocal lens has one point of focus and it uses one power for near, intermediate, and distance ranges.

A monofocal lens is also referred to as a single-focus IOL. It provides the sharpest focus at one particular distance, usually from afar which is helpful with driving and other activities where distance vision is required. Monofocal lenses are not ideal for seeing up close or for reading, so it's possible that you will still need to wear glasses or contact lenses when you're reading or using a computer. Those needing astigmatism correction are likely going to need to wear glasses at all times following cataract surgery if they choose the standard IOL option.

As with many other types of surgeries, this cataract lens type has seen significant improvements in recent years.

What Is a Premium IOL?

Beyond the standard option, there are other types of cataract surgery lenses that you may consider. Here are some different lenses for cataract surgery that you can examine:

  • A toric lens has a built-in correction for astigmatism and is available in a monofocal lens, some have presbyopia-correcting capability.
  • Accommodating lenses are capable of correcting vision at all distances, as the lens uses the eye's natural muscle movement to alter the shape, thus improving focus.
  • Light adjustable lenses are a newer option for monofocal IOLs and they are the only option that can be customized after the surgery is completed. The light-adjustable lenses (LALs) allow your ophthalmologist to adjust the lens and correct intermediate vision if there are any leftover refractive errors that need correcting. This means that you won't need glasses or further vision correction to see at near or far away. This adjustment correction can also help improve astigmatism and is set through office-based light treatment procedures. If you aren't comfortable wearing glasses, this is a good option for you.
  • Multifocal lenses have corrective zones that are built into the lens. This is similar to bifocal or trifocal glasses and they allow you to see objects at both near and far. In some instances, multifocal lenses can help correct intermediate vision as well.
  • Expanded depth of focus IOLs (EDOF) have only one corrective zone that is expanded, allowing cataract surgeons to help improve distance vision and intermediate vision.
IOL Type Cost Noteworthy strengths Noteworthy weaknesses
Monofocal Standard Cheapest option, often covered by insurance Only one focus area, likely requires glasses for some tasks
Multifocal High Multiple focus points, might not need glasses, most similar to the eye’s natural lens Longer adaption time, more expensive, glasses still might be required
Accommodative Highest Often completely eliminates the need for glasses In rare cases, glasses are still required
Toric Increases costs Corrects astigmatism Adds to cost

What Are the Newest Treatments for Cataracts?

You might be wondering what is the newest lens for cataract surgery and how can I find the right lens option for me? There are many new treatments for cataracts that you can consider. For example, in 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved light-adjustable lenses as the first and only adjustable intraocular lens that is customizable to make refinements after the surgical procedure is over. This allows vision adjustments with UV light treatments and can assist in how well you see without glasses versus using a single-focus lens option.

Even though blurry vision can be corrected through cataract surgery in most patients, it is still difficult to predict the exact results for each individual patient. Typically, six out of 10 cataract patients are able to achieve their desired vision. However, the Light Adjustable Lens procedure allows the prescription to be adjusted after the lens has been implanted, helping to refine the lens to a precise prescription.

Those who opt for LAL are more likely to achieve uncorrected distance vision of 20/20 at six months post-op versus those who opt for a standard IOL.

What Type of Lens Does Medicare Cover for Cataract Surgery?

types of cataract surgery lenses

Does insurance cover cataract surgery? Because premium IOLs such as toric lenses have features that standard IOLs do not, it's uncommon for these procedures to be covered by insurance. It's likely that you will incur some out-of-pocket costs if you opt for a premium IOL procedure such as a light-adjustable IOL. These costs can range anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 per eye, but many people feel this is a small price  to pay to correct astigmatism, improve their vision, and achieve crisp vision.

Private health insurance and medicare typically cover the majority of cataract surgery costs including a monofocal IOL procedure. Depending on your policy, you might need to pay a deductible or, will only be able to choose from a limited number of lens brands.

If you're experiencing vision problems and you're interested in cataract surgery, its recommended that you always talk to your insurance agency and your eye surgeon for exact costs and insurance benefits.

Which Lenses for Cataracts Are Best for Me?

There isn't a one-size-fits-all lens, so it can be difficult to sift through your lens options for cataract surgery. Traditional surgery options such as monofocal lenses correct certain issues while other options such as toric lenses correct other issues. It's important that you seek the guidance of an experienced surgeon to find the best path for your vision and your visual goals. With this being said, here are some different factors that you should consider.

Those who choose the monofocal lens can achieve outstanding image quality at one distance. Monofocal lenses are ideal for those who are willing to wear glasses following the procedure for activities such as reading or spending time on a computer. Those with keratoconus or macular degeneration, for example, often benefit the most from this procedure.

Trifocal lenses, on the other hand, provide the largest vision correction and are an ideal choice for those who no longer want to wear glasses and wish to maximize their reading vision. Those with an underlying eye disease typically won’t benefit from this type of procedure.

Ask yourself the following questions to help you determine which option is best for you:

  • How much do you value a glasses-free lifestyle?
  • What is your current glasses prescription?
  • Do you mind wearing contacts?
  • What types of activities do you do most often? (Reading, driving at night, using a computer, etc.)
  • Are you okay with your current lifestyle or are you hoping to make changes to your glasses and contacts routine?

What to Consider When Choosing a Сataract Replacement Lens?

new treatments for cataracts

Now that you know more about the types of lenses for cataract surgery, it's important to weigh your options carefully. Of course, you should consult with your doctor to determine what is right for you, but there are other factors to consider such as:

  • Cost
  • How much time it'll take to adapt
  • Your daily vision needs
  • Your overall vision goals
  • Whether or not you want to wear glasses
  • Meet with your surgeon to make sure you feel comfortable with him or her

Your surgeon will have a better idea of what realistic results you can expect from various lens options and he or she should be able to talk you through the pros and cons of each option. It's important that you avoid getting your information solely from sources such as manufacturers' marketing materials as these can be biased even though the information might be technically accurate. When in doubt, you can always seek the advice or guidance of those who have gone through the same type of lens surgery that you're considering to see what their experience was like.

Even though an IOL can be replaced if something isn't right, all surgeries come with some level of risk. It's preferable you choose the IOL type that you want to keep for a lifetime, especially since you don't want to have to pay for the procedure more than once.


There are many factors that go into choosing the right lens for cataract surgery. This is a big decision and it's important that you can find a team that is experienced, and that you can trust! At The Kraff Eye Institute, our team is highly qualified to guide you in the right direction and make sure you get the care you need every step of the way. If you're interested in learning more about your cataract surgery lens options, contact us today.

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Dr. Colman R. Kraff

Committed to advancing new technologies in the field of ophthalmology, Dr. Colman Kraff helped to pioneer laser vision correction. In February of 1991, as part of a five-site, U.S., FDA clinical trial team, Dr. Kraff successfully performed the first excimer laser procedures in the Chicagoland area using the VISX Excimer Laser.

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