See Both Near and Far
During cataract surgery the cloudy natural lens within the eye will be replaced with a clear artificial intraocular lens (IOL). Single-focus IOLs, new technology IOLs, and other reliable techniques may allow you to see both near objects and distant objects without the need for glasses, bifocals, or reading glasses.
Only The Doctor Knows
Although there are many options to see near and distant after cataract surgery, only a discussion with your doctor who has completed a comprehensive examination can determine the most appropriate choice.
Near Vision, Mid-Distance, and Distant Vision
To understand the options for cataract surgery it is important to understand how the eye works for focused vision at different distances. When at rest, a normal eye is focused for distant objects (about 20 feet to infinity). To see objects closer than 20 feet, the eye needs to change focus.
When young, the natural crystalline lens within the eye is able to change shape and thereby change focus easily and for a wide range of focus. This is called accommodation.
At about age 10, the natural lens begins a very slow process of becoming less and less able to accommodate. This is called presbyopia. Presbyopia normally does not affect near vision until after age 40. This is when reading glasses or bifocals become necessary to see near objects. There is no "cure" for presbyopia.
As a cataract forms the lens becomes even less able to accommodate, however most people who develop cataracts have been fully presbyopic for quite some time and have been using readers and bifocals for years.
A monofocal IOL is an intraocular lens with a fixed focus for one distance. A cataract doctor may select monofocal IOLs that are for near focus, for mid-distance focus, or for distant focus. Only one of these three can be selected and the focus will not change after surgery.
Traditional cataract surgery would provide the focus of both eyes for distant objects and the patient would use reading glasses to see near objects. The vast majority of cataract patients elect to have monofocal IOLs in both eyes set for distance vision and then use reading glasses to see objects near.
Monofocal IOL Advantages
A major advantage of a monofocal IOL is that 100% of the light entering the eye and passing through the IOL reaches the retina, with all of that light focused the same. A monofocal IOL will provide the very highest quality of vision, however only for one distance.
Monofocal IOL Limitations
Glasses would be required to see distances that the monofocal IOL does not focus.
Monofocal IOL Summary
If superior vision quality is a requirement and using reading glasses is not a concern, then monofocal IOLs set for distance vision may be the most appropriate choice.
Lenses Available for your cataract procedure
Premium IOLs are a significant improvement on IOLs of only a few years ago, but not every type of IOL is best for every person.