Multifocal Intraocular Lenses (IOLs)
For patients who are losing their vision due to clouding of their natural lens, an artificial implantable multifocal intraocular lens (IOL) can help them see well at close, intermediate and far distances. It is frequently used to correct vision problems due to cataracts.
Multifocal IOLs are designed to focus light at multiple distances. They can be a good choice for cataract patients who want to reduce their reliance on glasses or contact lenses after their surgery.
The original intraocular lenses (IOLs) – which we now call standard IOLs – were a great option for correcting cataracts, but they could not duplicate a natural lens' ability to focus at a variety of distances. To compensate for this, patients had to wear glasses to view clearly close up and at middle distances.
Regular IOLs remain a good treatment, but newer multifocal IOLs offer many of the same benefits of traditional IOLs along with less reliance on glasses or contact lenses.
When the manufacturers of the leading brands of multifocal IOLs tested their lenses effectiveness for the Food and Drug Administration, around 80 percent of the patients who had the lenses implanted did not need glasses or contacts after surgery.
Your odds may be higher or lower than this depending on the individual condition of your eyes. We will discuss this with you and give you the most accurate picture possible of the potential results you may expect from this type of procedure.
Unlike a traditional single-focus intraocular lens (IOL), a multifocal IOL is designed to focus light entering the eye at more than one distance, such as close, intermediate distance and far away. This may reduce your need to wear glasses to view clearly close up and at middle distances.
Multifocal IOLs are implanted at the same time as the damaged natural lens is removed and the procedure is similar to a regular outpatient cataract surgery.
- Anesthetic drops are applied to the eye to ensure the procedure will be comfortable. You will be awake during the surgery, which eliminates many of the risks and side effects of general anesthesia. If you feel nervous about being awake during the surgery, your doctor can give you a mild sedative to help them relax during the procedure.
- The doctor will make a small incision in the eye and remove the cataract that obstructs your vision.
- Once your natural lens is removed, the artificial lens will be inserted through the same opening. Typically, this opening is so small that that it heals by itself without stitches.
- The artificial lens is injected through the tiny incision, unfolded and then positioned into place.
- Once the surgery is completed, your doctor will give you eye drops to help prevent infection and inflammation. You will continue to use these eye drops for several days after your procedure. In addition, for comfort and protection, the doctor may cover your eye with a patch or clear shield.
- The recovery period for IOL procedures is relatively short. Most patients are able to pursue their normal activities within a day after their surgery. You can do light work, watch television and read, but you should not engage in an activity that will raise your blood pressure or that may put pressure on your eye.
- Most patients who have a multifocal IOL implanted notice an improvement in the clarity of their vision within a few days and see further improvements over time. Please note that it may take four to six weeks before your vision normalizes completely.
- Also remember that you will be unable to drive immediately following your procedure. Make sure you have someone accompany you to your procedure who can drive you home after your surgery is completed.
You may be a candidate for a multifocal IOL if you have a cataract or other eye disease that has damaged your cornea, the natural lens inside your eye.
To determine if a multifocal IOL is for you, your doctor will perform a thorough exam and review your medical record. Patients who have a high level of astigmatism may need to have astigmatism correction in addition to the multifocal IOL to obtain the best results.
Finally, good candidates for multifocal IOLs are willing to accept that there is a trade off for reduced dependence on glasses and reading lenses. While multifocal IOLs can offer good vision at multiple distances, they may not provide perfect vision at every distance. You may still notice distortions in vision, such as halos of light around street lights and car headlights at night.