If your health needs require a cataract surgery and you want more freedom from eyeglasses after the recovery period, then you may wish to consider a multifocal intraocular lens so that your range of clear vision can expand. In the past, before this option became available, the goal of this medical intervention was to restore a patient’s vision so that they could drive, watch TV, and managed other distance-vision tasks with ease. You would then need to wear reading glasses or use bifocals for reading and up-close activities because of the presbyopia that occurred after the surgery.
Now patients with cataracts have the option to use a multifocal lens that can correct their vision up close, far away, and at every other depth between them. Most patients find that they can live free of glasses except for the occasional need for reading glasses with small print after their surgery.
There are currently two options available in the United States that have FDA approval for cataract surgeries: AcrySof IQ ReSTOR and Tecnis Multifocal IOL. If you have a diagnosis that involves a cataract, then these are the pros and cons of a multifocal lens surgery to consider to help to correct the problem.
List of the Pros of the Cataract Surgery Multifocal Lens
1. It is a procedure that comes with a high rate of success.
About 93% of the patients who receive a cataract surgery for a multifocal lens say that they would do it again if the need should ever arise. About 90% of the patients who receive this option can manage the tasks of daily living without needing glasses as an intervention. The Tecnis choice has been available in the United States for use since 2009 as well, which means there is a long history of success for those who need an intervention for their eye and vision health.
2. The lens works with the eye in natural ways.
The multifocal lens is designed to work with the ciliary body, which is a small muscle inside of the eye that assists with focus and vision clarity. It is part of the our normal near-point mechanisms that everyone uses throughout their life. If you attempt to focus on something at a close range, then the muscle contracts to change the natural lens so that the power of your eyesight increases to offer a better focus.
The lenses have small hinges that allow for this movement to still occur in the eye, creating natural levels of close, intermediate, and far-off vision. That means there is a lower risk of experiencing unwanted visual side effects, such as halos or glare, after the completion of the cataract surgery.
3. This surgery can be performed on one eye or both of them.
If your doctor determines that cataracts are a vision health problem in both of your eyes, then you may receive a recommendation to operate on the denser cataract to improve your eyesight. Should that surgery be successful, and you receive a substantial improvement to your vision, then it may be possible to forgo the cataract removal on the other eye.
Most people gain significant benefits with their depth perception and daily living activities, so separate surgeries are usually recommended to avoid long-term downtime. Your doctor might recommend having a second surgery within 30 days of the first if you are quite near-sighted or far-sighted to avoid issues with double vision.
4. The recovery period after the surgery is minimal for most patients.
Most people spend about 60 minutes in the recovery room after their multifocal lens cataract surgery to help the anesthesia wear off. Your doctor might place a bandage over the eye, or have a clear shield placed over it, to help the healing process begin. You will need to have someone drive you home after the procedure.
Then your primary goal must be to keep your eye from becoming infected. You will be using eye drops several times per day. Water must also stay out of your eye to support the healing process. Most people can get back to their daily routine in 24-48 hours with the exception of jogging, heavy lifting, or other activities that might impact the new lens.
5. The dietary requirements for the cataract surgery are minimal.
When you decide that a cataract surgery with a multifocal lens is the best solution to improve your vision, then your doctor will likely put you on a diet to prepare your body for the procedure. You will need to avoid sugar, keeping sweet foods to a minimum as much as possible. High sugar levels can interfere with white blood cell activities. You’ll need to drink plenty of water to start flushing out toxins as well.
Your doctor might also recommend eating certain vegetables to support your immune system as well. Orange, yellow, red, and dark green vegetables contain high levels of beta carotene. You might also be asked to eat a cup of gale each day to improve your natural Vitamin A levels. Garlic can boost your immune system, potentially reduce your cholesterol, and potentially offer an antiseptic option.
6. Most patients come out of the surgery with a superior result.
Cataract surgery with a multifocal lens will provide you with clearer vision because the cloudiness is being remove from the eye. The artificial multifocal lenses replace your natural ones so that you can have your eyesight restore to an acuity that can sometimes reach 20/20. Although this outcome is not a universal result for everyone, there is a realistic expectation that you will see better after your recovery, with vivid colors and more clarity, than you did before talking with the doctor in the first place.
7. It is a viable procedure for almost everyone at any age.
Although there are some demographics that are not usually a good candidate for a cataract surgery with a multifocal lens, most people – at almost any age – can have this life-changing procedure. Most patients tend to develop cataracts that interfere with their vision in their 60s, but dark or cloudy vision can begin developing for some people in their 30s without an injury. Some people are also genetically dispositioned to develop cataracts in their lifetime.
Unless your doctor disqualifies you because of something specific that is happening with your health or in your life, you can generally expect a positive result with this procedure.
List of the Cons of the Cataract Surgery Multifocal Lens
1. Some patients may not receive the full amount of focusing power.
The multifocal lens does an excellent job of creating a focus zone that people can use for all levels of vision, but some patients may not. Receive enough lens manipulation with their ciliary body to create clarity for close-up items. There is typically an improvement in the distance and intermediate vision of the patient, but reading glasses might still be necessary for some when reading or observing items that are close to their face. If your goal is to eliminate the need for glasses entirely, there is a risk factor of about 10% for all parties that limited use may still be necessary.
The outcome is still better than not having the cataract surgery at all, but the incomplete near-vision results can leave some people feeling frustrated with the outcome of the procedure.
2. It may be classified as an optional procedure for some people.
The removal and replacement of a clouded lens is the only cure that is currently available for a cataract. That means the one question that patients must consider involves the timing of the procedure. There is no rush to have a new multifocal lens because you are not in a life-threatening situation. If there is not much interference with your daily life or your overall vision, then this procedure might be considered optional. That could mean limited insurance coverage.
Most patients wait until they cannot see the stair steps clearly or fail the vision test for their driver’s license before proceeding with this option. Some doctors may recommend an earlier intervention because of another health issue, such as macular degeneration, creating difficulties during the examination process.
3. There are limited providers who offer the multifocal procedure.
As the number of surgery options for cataracts has grown in the United States, so have the different lens options that are available for patients. Multifocal lenses are one of the newest choices that is available for this health concern, which means the number of qualified providers in your area could be limited. Unless you live in a large metropolitan area like NYC, LA, Chicago, or Seattle, you might need to travel a significant distance to have this procedure performed.
Even when it is available, there are cost considerations to look at before proceeding. Even if your insurance will pick up the cost of the surgery, you probably don’t have coverage for the specialty multifocal lens. Most policies cover the monofocal lens only. That means you could be paying between $1,500 to $3,000.
4. It does not resolve the health issues that could trigger the cataracts.
A cataract surgery that involves multifocal lenses can correct or restore a person’s vision, but it does not work toward any health improvements that may be necessary. Aging is one of the most common causes of cataracts, and injuries can cause them in some individuals too. If you take steroid medications or have had a previous eye surgery, then there is a higher risk of experiencing this issue as well.
There are some preventable health conditions which can cause cataracts as well, such as high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, or drinking a significant amount of alcohol. You will need to address these issues after having the surgery to ensure that your quality of life standards can improve.
5. Some people are not good candidates for this procedure.
Patients may not receive approval for the multifocal lens surgery for a variety of reasons depending on where they live. Some people may be too old to successfully recover from this surgical intervention. Anyone with a pre-existing eye issue, such as glaucoma, might not be a viable candidate. Having poor overall health may also cause the surgery to be postponed or not even considered.
Women who are pregnant, could become pregnant, or are nursing may need to wait because hormonal changes can impact vision. Anyone with dry eyes may not be a viable candidate because the surgery can increase this issue. Anyone that is on a medication where the outcome could cause a change in vision may not qualify either.
6. There can still be some discomfort during and after the procedure.
Most patients make it through the cataract surgery with only mild symptoms or side effects, but some of them may still be annoying or bothersome to some people. You will need to expect that your eyes will experience some discomfort since there is a direct change to your lens. The recovery time can bring about issues of irritation that your eye drops may not resolve during the first few days back at home. Some people report that their eyes water more, others say that they become dry, and there can be sensations of burning that occur.
7. There are risks to consider with this procedure.
Although a cataract surgery is usually a successful procedure, there is always a medical risk that the outcome could leave you with an adverse result instead of one that is positive. The failure rate for this procedure hovers around 2% in the United States, which means about 15,000 people each year lose their vision after deciding to go through with the surgery. There is also a risk of leaving lens particles in the eye, stitches that can cause irritation, and other situations that could impact your overall health.
Verdict on the Pros and Cons of Cataract Surgery Multifocal Lens
Insurance companies typically pay for the cost of a monofocal lens if a cataract surgery is necessary. If you prefer a multifocal lens for this intervention, then you can expect to pay up to $3,000 per lens for this specialized surgery.
These lenses are also newer in the United States, so a multifocal specialist might not be available in your community if this is the procedure you want to pursue. If you are thinking about this procedure as an option, then you will want to look at the overall experience of the surgeon before booking your appointment.
The pros and cons of cataract surgery using a multifocal lens involve your long-term vision health. If you don’t mind using glasses after the procedure, then a monofocal intervention could be a cheap and effective way to maintain your lifestyle. Should your preference be to remove the need to wear glasses in almost every situation, then choose this option if you have an eyesight impairment of this nature.