Multifocal Lens

At Sweeney Eye Associates, when we can’t help our patients prevent eye problems, we utilize the latest innovations in the field of ophthalmology to correct them. We use multifocal intraocular lenses for cataract replacement surgery. In contrast to former monofocal lens options, patients receiving multifocal lenses often find they rarely need glasses after surgery because multifocal lenses allow the person to see well at more than one distance.

It is estimated that 20.5 million Americans over the age of 40 have cataracts. Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s natural lenses caused by a variety of reasons: natural aging, excessive sun exposure, eye trauma, eye disease, smoking, and other causes. In cataract surgery, the clouded lenses are removed and replaced with intraocular lenses (IOLs).

What is a multifocal lens?

Prior to 2005, natural lenses with cataracts were replaced with monofocal lenses that focus light on a certain point in space, a certain distance. Depending on what the patient felt they did most often, things like up close work on a computer or distance vision for outdoor activities, the monofocal distance was selected. The patient would then wear glasses to correct the vision distance not addressed by the lenses, usually for up close vision.
Then in 2005 the first multifocal IOLs were introduced. This type of IOL provides correction for both near and distance vision. Both near and far objects can be in focus at the same time, so these lenses take a little time to adjust. Your brain must learn to select the visual information it needs to form an image of either near or distant objects. Multifocal lenses also correct presbyopia, which is the natural loss of near and intermediate vision as most people pass the age of 40.

Learn more about our new Symfony IOL

What is the purpose of a multifocal lens?

Multifocal lens implants allow the patient to rarely need corrective glasses, usually only for extreme up close work, if at all. These lenses provide accommodation — the ability for the eye to quickly change focus between distances — similar to how the natural lens formerly did before presbyopia and cataracts set in.

Is a multifocal lens similar to the eye’s natural lens?

A multifocal lens functions differently than the natural lens of the eye. When we’re young our eyes change shape when focusing on objects at different distances. As we age, the lenses become rigid, to the point of functioning more like a monofocal lens. In most people, up close vision goes away, hence the need for reading glasses. A multifocal lens does not change shape according to function. However, it compensates for this downside by allowing the eyes to visualize near and distant objects simultaneously with the use of the same optic. The brain then sorts the information to form the desired image.

Will multifocal lenses make my vision perfect?

People wonder if having multifocal intraocular lenses will return them to 20/20 vision. This is possible, but more likely there will be some compromise in distance vision for the convenience of not needing glasses for up close vision any longer. If you need perfect distance vision, for instance if you’re a pilot or drive a car a great deal, you still may want to opt for monofocal lenses at distance, along with reading glasses up close.

At Sweeney Eye Associates, we will discuss all your options for your cataract IOL replacement. We’ll show you all the options out there and the strengths of each.