Skip to Content
View Additional Content In This Section
A cataract—a clouding of the lens of the eye—blocks the normal passage of light through the eye.
Surgery for cataracts involves removing the natural lens of the eye
that contains the
cataract and either replacing it with an artificial
lens called an intraocular lens implant (IOL) or compensating for its absence
with eyeglasses or contact lenses.
The most common replacement is an IOL. Before having surgery, review
with your doctor the advantages and disadvantages of each type of replacement
lens. A variety of IOL types are available. Your doctor can help you choose
the type that may work best for you.
An IOL is placed inside the eye during surgery. Corrective glasses
may be needed after surgery for reading and close work. But they are not as
thick and heavy as traditional cataract glasses.
Studies are being done to find the age at which children can
benefit from an IOL. If your child needs cataract surgery, talk with
your eye specialist (preferably a pediatric ophthalmologist) about what current
studies are showing about the use of IOLs in children.
If you have cataracts and you are nearsighted, you may be able to have cataract surgery and get an IOL to help treat both issues. The chance of having retinal detachment after the surgery is higher than if you were not nearsighted, though. Talk to your doctor about all the pros and cons of cataract surgery.
If you don't have cataracts but you are nearsighted, there are two ways that IOLs may be able to help treat the nearsightedness:
Cataracts that begin in the center of the lens (nuclear cataracts) are the most common cause of
nearsightedness getting worse in adults.
Most people choose distance-vision IOLs over near-vision IOLs, and they use glasses for sharp near vision. But some people choose
IOLs that provide better near vision for reading, and they use glasses for distance
If you are having the lenses in both eyes replaced, your doctor may
recommend monovision. With monovision, the IOL in one
eye provides for better near vision, and an IOL that gives better distance
vision is implanted in the other eye. Many people who try monovision can adjust
to it. But it's not an option for everyone. One drawback of monovision is that each eye must work more
independently. This can cause problems with depth perception. You may have to
adjust your gaze more often to allow one eye or the other to see
When thinking about how an IOL will affect your vision following
cataract surgery, some types of IOL to consider are:
Talk to your eye doctor about the pros and cons of each type of IOL.
Other Works Consulted
Barsam A, Allan B (2012). Excimer laser refractive surgery versus phakic intraocular lenses for the correction of moderate to high myopia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (1).
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerCarol L. Karp, MD - Ophthalmology
Current as ofAugust 21, 2015
Current as of:
August 21, 2015
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Carol L. Karp, MD - Ophthalmology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.