Monofocal vs Multifocal Lenses | Cataracts

8 May 2021

When you’re being considered for cataract surgery, you’ll need to think about the type of lens implant that you would like.

There are a number of different options that you can choose from, and you’ll need to consider your daily activities when deciding which type of lens you should go for – the different IOL types provide a variety of different benefits.

Whilst monofocal lenses provide focus at one distance only, multifocal lenses allow for vision at a range of distances, meaning they can correct both near, intermediate and far distance. These are  a more popular option for those who want to also eliminate their dependency for glasses.

As each type of intraocular lens has its own advantages and disadvantages, which also differ from the type of refractive condition you have such as far or near sightedness or astigmatism, we’ve created this short guide to help you make an informed choice.

Monofocal lenses

The monofocal lens only enables focus at just one distance – either near,  intermediate or distance.

Advantages of monfocal lenses:

  • If you suffer from astigmatism, you may be able to have this fixed by a monofocal lens called a toric/enhanced lens, which could improve your vision more than having a standard monofocal lens fitted.
  • If you still require glasses after you have had your surgery, you may find that you have better vision in low light than you would have had if you had chosen multifocal lenses

Disadvantages of monofocal lenses:

  • If you take the option to improve your distance vision, you will still need to use glasses when reading. This also works in reverse – if you have chosen to improve your short sightedness, you may need to wear glasses for distance – for example when you are driving.
  • If you have astigmatism and choose to go for the standard monofocal lens, you could find that your vision is still blurred, and you may still suffer from short sightedness or long sightedness.


A vision improvement technique using Monofocal lenses, monovision gives the option to install different lenses in each eye during cataract surgery, so that you can see at two different distances.

Advantages of monovision:

  • The ability to tackle both short and long sightedness at the same time.
  • The best way to reduce the need for glasses while still opting for Monofocal lenses.

Disadvantages of monovision:

  • The main disadvantage of monovision is that it requires learning a new set of skills to adapt to the different vision on each eye. You will be tested for your tolerance for this if you are considering this as an option.
  • Monovision patients may perhaps notice that their intermediate vision is compromised as the dominant eye is focused for distance only and the non-dominant eye near only.

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    Multifocal lenses

    This type of lens will allow you to see all ranges of vision near, intermediate and far. The lenses work by using several different optical powers at varying points across the lens. These work best if they are implanted into both eyes.

    Advantages of multifocal lenses:

    • A large proportion of people, approximately 95 per cent, find that they no longer need to wear glasses for their activities once they have made the choice to have these lenses implanted.
    • Multifocal lenses can often offer excellent distance and near vision, meaning that if you work at a computer all day, it could be the perfect choice for you.

    Disadvantages of multifocal lenses:

    • Somewhere between five and ten per cent of patients who opt for this lens suffer some kind of halo or glare when looking at lights at night. However, many patients do adapt to this after a short period of time.
    • A small proportion of patients, in the order of five percent, may need a lower power reading add in dim working conditions or when looking at very fine print such as medicine bottles.
    • This type of lens can sometimes be associated with a struggle with contrast, which may have a negative impact if you are trying to read something in dim light. Of course, it is bad for your eyes if you read in dim light anyway – so this should be avoided whether you have had lens replacement surgery or not.

    Now you’ve read about the pros and cons of the different types of lenses, you should have a clearer idea which ones you would prefer. It may seem like a daunting decision to make, but we’re always here to help and advise you; You can call us direct on 0800 086 1064 to chat to one of our trained optical advisors – who will be happy to answer any questions you may have on cataract surgery and the different intraocular lens options available to you.

    But we would highly recommend that you book a personal consultation with one of our Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeons, at your local eye hospital for a more detailed discussion about the best cataract lenses for your individual eye condition.


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