As people age, cataracts are a normal finding and part of the aging process. The treatment for cataracts is surgical extraction of the crystalline lens inside the eye which has developed a cataract and it is replaced with an artificial lens. A common question about the process is whether or not glasses will be needed following the surgery. The answer is dependent on what type of artificial lens is used in cataract surgery. There are three main types of artificial lenses: standard or distance-only lenses, toric or astigmatism lenses, and multifocal lenses. No surgery can guarantee that there will never be a need for glasses after the procedure, but it is likely that with a multifocal lens, glasses will only be needed minimally.
What is a Cataract?
The crystalline lens in the eye can get thicker, harder, and cloudier with age. This is what occurs when a cataract forms.
The type of cataract that most commonly occurs with age is known as a nuclear sclerotic cataract.
In a nuclear sclerotic cataract, the center of the crystalline lens becomes yellowed and hazy over time.
This can reduce vision, cause glare and halos at night, and reduce contrast sensitivity.
What is Cataract Surgery?
Cataract extraction, or cataract surgery, is the procedure that involves making a small incision into the front of the eye to extract the crystalline lens and cataract and replace it with a new artificial lens.
The entire process of cataract surgery takes only minutes but it is considered an outpatient surgery procedure due to the use of anesthesia and an IV during the surgery.
The process of cataract surgery does not change with the different types of artificial lenses that can be implanted.
The process before the cataract surgery will require a workup that can determine the best power of the artificial lens for a standard, toric, or multifocal artificial lens.
Standard Artificial Lens Implants
The basic lens implant to use for cataract surgery is known as a standard or distance-only artificial lens.
These lenses are suitable for those who are willing to wear glasses full time after cataract surgery or those who have a negligible eyeglasses prescription in the distance and are willing to wear reading glasses after surgery.
Medical insurance will pay for these types of lenses as a medical necessity.
Toric Artificial Lens Implants
Similar to standard lenses, toric or astigmatism lenses are designed to correct distance vision as best as possible, but the toric lenses have the capability of correcting astigmatism in the eye.
This allows distance vision to be corrected to a point of not requiring glasses for most individuals.
After this type of lens is implanted, reading glasses will still be needed or bifocal glasses can be made with minimal power in the distance section of the glasses.
Multifocal Artificial Lens Implants
The most comprehensive option for lens implants is a multifocal artificial lens. These lenses have the capability of correcting distance, near, and intermediate vision with or without astigmatism power.