What Are Intraocular Lens Implants?

An intraocular lens implant is an artificial replacement for the lens of your eye. It’s part of the surgery to fix cataracts.

How Your Eye Works

The IOL replaces the eye’s natural lens. The lens is first removed by a process called phacoemulsification. A small incision is made on the edge of the cornea 

The intraocular lens implant is routinely utilized during cataract surgery. Intraocular lenses work much in the same way as a natural lens would. As light rays enter the eye the IOL bends (or refracts) the light rays to help you see with accuracy. A lens implant may have various focusing powers, just like prescription contact lenses or eyeglasses.

Which Intraocular Lens Is Best?

IOLs can be used to fix nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia. Depending on one specific eye issue and desired outcome, there are several different types of IOLs to choose from:

  • Monofocal IOLs – A monofocal IOL has only has one focal point. It can be set to focus on close, medium, or distance vision based on your preference. Distance vision tends to be the most common selection. When this is the case, reading glasses are used for reading or seeing close up.
  • Trifocal IOLs – Trifocal IOLs help you see better in the distance, intermediate (computer distance), and near (reading distance). Unlike bifocals where one has to look down to see up close, trifocal IOLs allow you to see both distance and near while looking in any direction.
  • Toric IOLs – This is the go-to option if your eye has significant astigmatism. Astigmatism results when the cornea is flatter in one direction than the other, like a football. This typically impacts the vision at all distances. A toric IOL is designed to correct astigmatism and allow you to have great vision without glasses. Toric, astigmatism correcting IOLs can be monofocal or trifocal. Before surgery, your eye surgeon takes measurements of your eye to determine the most beneficial toric IOL power and the specific orientation required for the eye to correct astigmatism successfully.
  • Phakic Lenses – Phakic lenses are not IOLs, but rather ICLs. Phakic ICLs leave the natural lens untouched and intact. Commonly used to correct moderate to severe nearsightedness, a phakic ICL is a clear lens surgically placed behind the iris, in front of the natural lens. This implant allows light to focus properly on the retina without the need for additional corrective eyewear. A phakic ICL is primarily designed for people who are too nearsighted for LASIK and photorefractive keratectomy.

The Surgery

If you have a cataract, you’ll see an ophthalmologist. This doctor specializes in eye surgery and problems. They’ll probably tell you it’s best to wait to remove the cataract until it starts to affect your daily life. They can do the surgery at a hospital or an outpatient clinic.

Is It Risky?

Any surgery has a chance of complications. It’s rare after an intraocular lens implant, but you might notice bleeding or get an infection. Redness or swelling is more common.