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The Pros and Cons of Multifocal Intraocular Lenses (IOLs)

As we age, our vision naturally deteriorates, beginning with a loss of reading vision, or presbyopia, and continuing with a clouding of our crystalline lens, or cataracts.

A 2015 survey estimated that in the U.S., over 24.4 million people ages 40 and older are affected by cataracts.

Cataracts occur when the eye lens tissue is affected by age or injury, causing your natural lens to become thick, less transparent, and inflexible.

Today, patients have higher expectations regarding their vision, seeking treatments that give them the freedom that comes with renewed sight.

When we’re unable to see clearly, it can have a significant impact on how we experience our daily lives. That’s where multifocal intraocular lenses, or IOLs, come in…

What Are Multifocal Intraocular Lenses (IOLs)?

Multifocal IOLs are a type of prosthetic lens used in cataract surgery. Some patients choose to have this lens placed before they have developed cataracts, a procedure known as a refractive lens exchange.

During cataract or lens replacement surgery, the patient’s natural lenses are replaced with multifocal IOLs. These new lenses improve near, intermediate, and far-distance vision.

Etched onto the surface of the multifocal lens are concentric rings, which allow images at a variety of distances to focus on the retina. Ultimately, multifocal IOLs provide restored visual function and reduce or eliminate the need to wear corrective eyewear.

Why Choose Multifocal IOLs?

The intraocular lens (IOL) covered by Medicare only corrects vision at a single focus, such as distance.  This means glasses are required for all computer use and near vision.

In addition, the “standard” lens does not correct a common problem known as astigmatism, which if present to a significant degree, will require you to wear eyeglasses even to see distance clearly.

Multifocal lenses come with astigmatism correction where needed, and thus offer the broadest range of vision correction available, and the greatest freedom from spectacles.

In selecting your multifocal lens, we discuss your hobbies and activities and help you select the lens that best meets your lifestyle.

Some multifocal lenses are more oriented toward intermediate or computer range vision, and others focus on more closely held reading vision.  All provide excellent distance vision.  Soon, the US will have the first multifocal lens that provides all three focal ranges:  distance, intermediate, and near.

What Are the Pros & Cons of Multifocal IOLs?

As with any medical procedure, it’s always important to weigh the advantages and potential disadvantages.

Multifocal IOLs aren’t for everyone. However, if you are a candidate for this surgery, the benefits generally outweigh the associated risks.

Here are some basic pros and cons of multifocal IOLs:


  • Reduced lifetime cost of glasses and contacts. Multifocal IOLs can decrease your need for reading glasses or computer glasses after cataract surgery. These implanted lenses expand your range of vision, so you can see clearly at near and far without additional eyewear. Many patients who choose multifocal IOLs find they can be glasses-free or may only need reading glasses occasionally for reading small print following surgery.
  • More freedom to live actively and unencumbered. Multifocal IOLs improve near, intermediate, and far-distance vision, varying with the lens model chosen.  In many cases, after having the lenses implanted, people no longer need to wear corrective lenses to see clearly.
  • No upkeep or routine replacement necessary. The results of multifocal IOLs are long-lasting. Unlike contacts, multifocal IOLs are implanted inside the eye and don’t require any additional care or routine replacement.


  • Difficulty seeing at close distances. Sometimes, this is an issue for people with multifocal IOLs. However, reading glasses usually, correct this problem. Some models of multifocal lenses focus on intermediate vision and distance, requiring reading glasses for closely held reading material, while others focus on close near vision, requiring glasses for intermediate vision.
  • Night vision, halos, and glares. Some patients develop halos and glares surrounding lights after dark, as well as reduced nighttime vision. However, for most patients this fades over time, with about one  percent having persistent night vision complaints, occasionally requiring the exchange of the lens.

More About Multifocal IOLs & Lens Replacement

Though it may take time for patients to adapt to their IOLs, these lenses make a lasting, positive impact on thousands of lives every year.

There’s a wide variety of IOLs to choose from, but what’s best for you depends on several factors, including your lifestyle and your specific visual needs.

If you have questions about multifocal IOLs, the experts at Eye Center of the Rockies can help. Call us in Glenwood Springs (970-930-8556) or Eagle (970-930-8801); or, contact our team online to schedule an appointment.

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Glenwood Springs, CO 81601



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970-930-1205, 970-930-1044, 970-930-1195, 970-456-1442, 970-930-1120, 970-989-2006, 970-989-2700, 970-930-1013, 970-947-0050