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Intraocular Lens


An intraocular lens, or IOL, is a clear, plastic lens that requires no care and becomes a permanent part of the eye. Based on test results, a surgeon will recommend the best IOL for each individual patient. The three types of IOL are traditional, toric and multifocal.

Traditional Monofocal IOLs

Traditional IOLs are monofocal, meaning they offer vision at one distance only (far, intermediate or near). The doctor will help decide whether it’s most important for a patient to see up close or at a distance without glasses. If the patient chooses the distance option, glasses will likely still be required for reading and computer work.

  • Pro: Traditional IOLS are the least expensive lenses, and Medicare or insurance usually covers the cost.
  • Con: If you have astigmatism and choose a monofocal lens, you may still need to wear glasses all the time.

Astigmatism is a very common vision condition that causes blurred vision due to the irregular shape of the cornea.

Toric Monofocal IOLs

 Toric IOLs can also be used to correct astigmatism, depending on how the cornea is shaped. Toric lenses are generally used for higher levels of astigmatism while lower levels can often be corrected with cuts made in the cornea that are used to change the shape of the eye.  These cuts are called limbal relaxing incision (LRI) and can be made by hand with a blade or with precision of a laser. Depending on the degree of astigmatism, your surgeon may recommend a toric IOL or an LRI or both.

  • Pro: Toric lenses generally provide clear distance vision. For some people, toric lenses give them the crispest vision of their life.
  • Con: You will likely need glasses or contact lenses to read. Also, you will likely have to pay an extra fee for either a toric IOL or an LRI.

Multifocal and Extended Depth of Focus IOLs

Multifocal and extended depth of focus IOLs are designed to help you see near, far and in between with as little glasses or contact use as possible. Studies show 80-90% of patients are glasses free with the remaining 10-20% needing glasses for some distance.

  • Pro: Multifocal and extended depth of focus IOLs offer the best chance to see both near and far without wearing glasses or contact lenses.
  • Con: These are the most expensive lens choice. Most insurance does not cover the additional expense of these lenses.

Learn more about IOL choices at Your Sight Matters.