Senior Connections

Cataract Surgery: Choosing the Best Lens Option

I love to do cataract surgery because of the life-changing results it can produce. Not only is the world brighter and more vivid after cataract surgery, many patients can see well without glasses for the first time in their lives.

There is one part of cataract surgery, however, that is becoming more of a challenge – helping patients choose the best lens option.

Imagine going into a shoe store and being offered the “best shoes ever” for $5,000 a pair. Your friends have talked about them, and they sound appealing, but you are having a hard time deciding if they are right for you. You would like to try them on first, but the sales associate tells you that these shoes are so special, you can’t try them on – you have to decide if you want them without even knowing what it is like to walk around in them for a few minutes.

This may sound like a bad dream, but unfortunately it is the reality of the decision most people face when choosing a lens for implanting during cataract surgery. There are several different options available; they each have potential benefits and some tradeoffs; and there is no way to try them out before deciding which one you are going to choose.

Fifteen years ago, lens selection with cataract surgery was simple – there was only one type of lens and everyone got the same general design. As technology has advanced over the years, more manufacturers have developed new lens options. This has led to better visual outcomes, but also more choices, and in some cases more expense for patients.

Cataract surgery involves replacing the cloudy natural lens inside the eye with a clear artificial lens.

Your surgeon will do measurements and select the correct size and shape lens. Continuing the shoe analogy, think of this as measuring your size.

From there, you and your surgeon will discuss whether monofocal or multifocal lenses are right for your lifestyle – and your budget.

Most patients choose a lens that gives them good distance vision, but some people prefer to be near-sighted and see up close without glasses for reading or working on the computer. Either can be accomplished with a monofocal lens that is included in the standard surgery package.

A monofocal lens focuses light at a single distance. Patients who choose a monofocal lens with a distance correction can see clearly for driving and watching TV, but will always need glasses for computer work or reading. Patients who choose a monofocal lens with a near correction can read without glasses but will always need glasses for distance activities like driving.

A multifocal lens is newer technology that focuses light from two different distances. Patients who choose a multifocal lens can both read and drive without glasses. The tradeoff is extra cost, usually around $2,500 per eye, as well as some halos around bright lights at night.

If you are planning cataract surgery, think about how important it is for you to read and drive without glasses.

This might sound like quite a dilemma — trying to choose the lens that will be in your eye for the rest of your life and not having the opportunity to try it on like you might do with a new pair of shoes. But the reality is there are no bad options. Each lens technology has the potential to improve your vision and make the world a brighter place.

Take extra time to review the options with your surgeon before making your final decision. And if you want to learn more about cataract surgery and your options, you are invited to attend one of my upcoming informational seminars. Please call 702-825-2085 to RSVP and get more details. 

Dr. Peter DeBry, M.D., is one of the most active and accomplished eye surgeons in the Las Vegas region. He trained at the renowned Bascom Palmer Institute and has been performing cataract surgery for more than 10 years. New patient consultations and cataract seminars are available at his new practice, NV Eye Surgery, with locations in Henderson and Summerlin. For more information, please call 702-825-2085.

*Lens selection options *

Consider a lens upgrade to a multifocal lens if these statements describe you:

  • It is important for me to do most of my daily activities without glasses.
  • My eye is generally healthy with no history of glaucoma or macular degeneration.
  • I don’t mind paying extra for a lens upgrade.
  • I could put up with mild visual symptoms such as halos around lights, a common occurrence with multifocal lenses.