Intraocular Lens


An intraocular lens is a medical device (artificial lens) that is implanted during surgery to replace the natural lens of your eye. They are primarily used in cataract surgery to improve vision. During cataract surgery, the eye’s cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an intraocular lens (IOL) implant to restore the eye’s focusing power.

IOLs can also be used for a type of vision correction surgery called Clear Lens Exchange where your eye’s clear natural lens is replaced with an artificial lens to correct your distance and near vision, reducing your need for reading glasses or bifocals.

Although IOLs are have been around since the mid-1960s, the first FDA approval for one did not occur until 1981. Before that, if you had cataracts removed, you had to wear very thick eyeglasses or special contact lenses in order to see afterward, since the natural lens had been removed wasn’t replaced with an artificial one.

Are there different types of intraocular lenses?

At Fisher-Swale-Nicholson Eye Center, we use three different types of IOLs:

  • Aspheric Basic IOL
  • Toric Astigmatism IOL
  • PanOptix Trifocal IOL

The Aspheric Basic IOL is also known as a monofocal lens because it has a single focal point. This is satisfactory for cataract patients who don’t mind wearing glasses or contacts following their procedure for everyday activities.

The basic IOL does not correct pre-existing conditions such as astigmatism or presbyopia (the need for reading glasses). About 1 in 3 people have astigmatism which is the curvature of the cornea that causes blurriness and distorted vision.

Toric Astigmatism IOLs are premium lenses that can correct both cataracts and astigmatism, as well as nearsightedness or farsightedness. They are ideal for cataract patients who wish to reduce the need for glasses or contacts for distance vision following surgery.

PanOptix Trifocal IOLs are also premium lenses. They are the #1 Presbyopic Correcting Lenses and are the most advanced technology on the market today. They are designed to provide you with clear vision for near (reading), intermediate (computer work), and far distances without glasses after cataract surgery.

How do you know which IOL is best for you?

Your eye doctor will review all the options for IOLs with you (including the advantages and disadvantages of each) during your preoperative exam and consultation. 

What can you expect during your consultation?

During your consultation, your eye doctor will measure the length of your eye before your surgery using a painless sound wave (ultrasound) test to determine what strength you will need for your IOL. Your eye surgeon will also check the health of your retina and cornea and give you an estimate of the level of vision you can expect after surgery.

What are premium IOLs?

Premium IOLs have additional features not found in conventional monofocal IOLs and cost more than conventional IOLs.

Does Medicare or private insurance cover the cost of premium IOLs?

Medicare and private health insurance or vision insurance policies generally do cover the cost of cataract surgery, including the cost of conventional monofocal IOLs, but not premium IOLs. Advanced technology lenses tend to cost extra because of their special features that correct astigmatism and reading vision. Depending on your policy, you may need to pay a deductible. Check with your insurance provider before scheduling surgery.

If you select premium IOLs, you will have to pay the difference in cost between a conventional monofocal IOL and the premium lens implant.

Do IOLs require replacement or cleaning?

No, IOLs do not require replacement or cleaning. Unlike contact lenses, IOLs are implanted inside the eye and are meant to be permanent. IOLs are the best option to replace your own lenses.

Who would not be an ideal candidate for cataract surgery with vision-correcting IOLs?

For some patients, other eye problems prohibit the use of vision-correcting intraocular lenses. So in the case of cataract surgery, the cataract is removed, and vision is corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Contact Us

If you are interested in cataract surgery with IOL placement or Clear Lens Exchange, call Fisher-Swale-Nicholson Eye Center at (815) 932-2020 to schedule a consultation. You may also request an appointment online.