Before cataract development, the human eye has a naturally clear, flexible lens that helps focus light on the retina so you can see clearly. During cataract surgery, or refractive lens exchange (RLE), your doctor removes the cloudy portion of the natural lens, and places an artificial clear lens called an intraocular lens or IOL.
There are different types of IOLs available which can reduce or eliminate your need for glasses after cataract surgery. Based on a comprehensive ocular examination, you and your cataract surgeon can discuss and choose the ideal IOL for you, which may be able to correct cataract as well as distance, intermediate, and near vision with minimal to no use of glasses.
A mono (single) focal (focus) IOL allows the clearest vision at one distance. A monofocal lens is uniform all the way through and has one refractive power.
These lenses can only focus light coming from distance or near. They cannot do both. Most patients choose to correct distance vision during cataract surgery, and therefore need glasses for near vision with this type of lens.
Doctors can also give patients a monofocal in one eye set for distance and one in the other set for close vision. This results in monovision, which allows the patient to have some independence from glasses but using one eye at a time for each distance. Depth perception is not as good with monovision as compared to being able to use both eyes for all distances.
Monofocal IOLs, if set for distance, do not allow for clear intermediate or close vision, so most patients have to wear glasses in order to use the computer, to read or to do up-close work.
There are, however, IOLs available that can provide sharp vision at intermediate and close distances — these are known as advanced technology intraocular lenses. One of the families of advanced technology lenses are called multifocal lenses.
One of the most popular advanced technology IOLs is called a multifocal. A multifocal lens is made up of rings circling outward from the center of the lens with the ability to focus light coming from distance and near. When implanted in the eye at the time of cataract surgery, the eye and brain adjust to look through the correct part of the lens depending on what the user is focusing on.
There are several other kinds of premium IOLs, and while no one is definitely better than others for every individual, certain kinds can have distinct advantages. For some multifocal lenses intermediate distance vision is not as clear as desired. Fortunately, trifocal IOLs, which can offer potentially clearer intermediate vision than multifocal lenses, are now being used in the US and the talented, state-of-the-art surgeons at EPLB are one of the few in the nation implanting these.
Much like a multifocal lens, a trifocal IOL has many sections set to alternating refractive powers. Unlike a multifocal, which has many different sections but is only set for better distance and close vision, a trifocal allows for good far, intermediate distance vision and close-up focus. This is because the alternating rings contain sections set for close, distance, and intermediate vision. This can be beneficial for people who want an advanced technology lens to achieve sharper vision but who spend a lot of time on the computer.
While trifocal IOLs have become widely used in Europe, they’ve only recently come to the US. At Eye Physicians of Long Beach, we’re lucky to be one of the few eye care centers that offers trifocal IOLs to our cataract patients. The trifocals we use are also some of the best available — the AcrySof IQ PanOptix intraocular lens is designed to adapt naturally to the eye and provide a continuous range of near to intermediate vision, without compromising distance vision.
Among available trifocal brands, Alcon’s PanOptix Trifocal IOL is one of the most effective options. The PanOptix has several benefits over other brands:
Only a complete evaluation by an eye surgeon can determine if you are a candidate for cataract surgery, and what IOL is best suited for your eyes and lifestyle.
Generally speaking, trifocal IOLs are best for patients who work on computers but still want to be able to read and enjoy other hobbies that require close focus. Since Alcon’s PanOptix Trifocal IOL is considered a premium IOL, it is not usually covered by Medicare or insurance.
Are you ready for cataract surgery, but not sure which IOL is best for your eyes and lifestyle? Our team of eyecare experts can help! Contact us to discuss your IOL options for cataract surgery in Long Beach. We’ll provide a recommendation based on your vision needs and lifestyle.
Eye Physicians of Long Beach will be among the first in the Long Beach area to implement this technology. If you are interested and would like more details about upcoming availability please contact us.