Why are there so many different lenses for cataract surgery? And which one is best for you?

22 November 2019

We understand that getting yourself psyched up and prepared for cataract eye surgery – like any other medical procedure – can be stressful. And having to make a decision on the type of cataract lenses you would like can sometimes feel a little bit overwhelming, especially as there are so many different lens types.

We’re going to explain everything there is to know about cataract lenses in this post, so you can relax and concentrate on getting ready for your surgery.

Cataract lenses: which one is best for you?

One of the many positive aspects of cataract eye surgery and lens replacement is that the results are permanent – you will only need to have it done once. But this also highlights the need for you to carefully consider your options before going ahead with surgery.

Due to advancements in ophthalmic surgery techniques and the technology used to design intraocular lenses (IOL) – the artificial lenses that are implanted during cataract eye surgery – you can now choose to have a powerful artificial lens that can dramatically improve your vision, inserted into your eye at the same time as having your cataracts treated.

Once upon a time this wasn’t possible because there was only one type of lens used in cataract surgery, which meant that although patients no longer suffered from cataracts after surgery, their vision was no better than it was before developing cataracts. And most still needed to wear heavy prescription glasses or contact lenses.

There are now numerous different types of cataract lenses available, and the decision about which ones to go for should be based on what’s most important to you, and how much better you would like your vision to be after surgery.

If you’re considering having cataract eye surgery, we recommend that you book in for a free consultation with one of our leading eye surgeons. Our surgeons will use the knowledge they’ve gained from performing thousands of lens replacement operations to advise you on the best cataract lenses to suit your lifestyle, and correct your vision problems.

Before attending your consultation, however, it’s advisable to research your options and have an idea in your mind about how you would like your vision to be after surgery. And that’s where this handy guide comes in.

Lenses for Cataract Surgery

Standard lens (monofocal)

This type of lens replacement will let you see very clearly, but only at one distance. So if you choose to have a lens to improve your vision to help with short-sightedness, you may still need to wear glasses to see clearly at a distance, and vice versa.

There are three different distances, and the one that you want to improve will depend on what you do on a daily basis.

  • Long distance – if you drive for a living, then improving your long distance vision could help immensely. This could also be a good choice if you like to watch a lot of television, or if you are a keen golf player.


  • Middle distance – this type of distance is similar to the distance that you would view a computer screen from. If you work in an office job, and have to spend a large portion of your day looking at a screen, you may well benefit from improving your middle distance vision. You may have noticed in the past that you suffer from headaches at the end of a long working day, and if this is the case for you then improving this vision could decrease the number of headaches you have.


  • Short distance – if you like to read a lot, then improving your short distance vision could be a good option for you. This may be beneficial if you spend a lot of time reading paper documents for work.

Toric lens

If you have astigmatism, this type of lens replacement will improve your vision at one specific distance. You may find that astigmatism blurs your vision slightly, so choosing to have this issue fixed with a toric lens could be beneficial to you.

Multifocal lens

A multifocal lens replacement will help to improve your vision at a number of different distances, and could be helpful if you are constantly switching distances during the day.

For example, if you need to switch from making notes on paper in front of you, to looking at your screen, then on to looking at a presentation at the front of the room, you will want to be able to do so without having to change your glasses each time.


If you don’t like the thought of using a multifocal lens, you could opt for monovision. This is where a single vision lens for one distance is implanted into one eye, and a lens for a different distance is implanted into another, correcting  problems with long-sightedness and short-sightedness. This means that you should be able to see both far and near, without having to get used to the differing focus of a multifocal lens.

Choosing the right cataract lenses

If you’re still unsure about which lenses to choose, it may help to keep a note of everything you do during the day, including the number of times you need to change your glasses. This should give you an idea of the activities that are problematic for you, so when you meet with your consultant, you’ll have lots of useful information to help guide your decision.

Whichever lens you choose, cataract eye surgery combined with lens replacement can be life changing. The operation is quick and painless. And the results are almost immediate.

You can read more about cataract eye surgery in the dedicated cataract section on our website, where you’ll also find a range of customer reviews from patients who have been delighted with the first-class service at Optegra, and the difference cataract surgery has made to their lives.


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