July Newsletter: Are Glasses Still Necessary After Cataract Surgery?

Old man still needs glasses after his cataract surgery.

Are Glasses Still Necessary After Cataract Surgery?

Are you wondering if you can throw away your glasses after your cataract surgery? The answer depends on the type of intraocular lens (IOL) you choose.

What Are IOLs?

Cataracts cloud the clear, disc-shaped lenses inside your eyes, causing blurry vision, faded color perception, light sensitivity, and poor night vision. IOLs are artificial lenses that replace your natural lenses. They're placed in your eyes during cataract surgery.

What Types of IOls Are Available?

Before your surgery, your eye doctor will help you choose the best type of IOL for you. Your options may include:

  • Fixed Focus Monofocal IOLs. These lenses offer one fixed focal point. Depending on your preference, you'll choose lenses set for either clear near or far vision. If you choose IOLs that correct your distance vision, you'll need glasses for reading and close work. If you want your IOLs set for sharp near vision, you'll use glasses to improve your distance vision.
  • Monofocal IOLs for Monovision. Good vision at varying distances is possible if you choose monofocal IOLs with different focal points. One IOL is set for near vision, while the other will be set for far vision. The brain combines the information from both eyes to create a clear image whether you're looking at a hill in the distance or reading a book. Your eye doctor may recommend that you wear monovision contact lenses for a few weeks to determine if monovision is a good choice for you. Although you probably won't need to wear eyeglasses most of the time, some people who opt for monofocal IOLs do need glasses for reading.
  • Multifocal IOLs. Do you wear bifocals, trifocals, or progressive lenses? Just like these eyeglass lenses, multifocal IOLs contain multiple focal points that correct near and far vision and reduce glare. Some types of IOLs correct intermediate vision, in addition to near and far vision. You probably won't need to wear eyeglasses if you opt for multifocal IOLs.
  • Toric IOLs. Toric IOLs keep your vision clear if you have astigmatism. Astigmatism causes blurry vision at any distance and occurs due to an irregularly shaped cornea or lens. If you choose a monofocal toric IOL, you'll need to wear glasses for near or far vision, depending on the setting of the lenses. You most likely won't need glasses if you choose a multifocal toric IOL.
  • Accommodative IOLs. The lens constantly changes its shape as you shift your focus from near to far objects. Starting around age 40, the natural lenses in our eyes stiffen and don't change shape quite as easily. This problem causes a refractive error called presbyopia. People who have presbyopia need glasses for reading and close work. Accommodative IOLs change shape just like youthful natural lenses. The IOLs are controlled by the movements of your eye muscles. If you choose this type of IOL, you probably won't need eyeglasses.
  • Extended Depth-of-Focus IOLs. Extended depth-of-focus IOLs use one long focal point instead of two or three separate focal points like multifocal lenses. The elongated focal point makes it possible to see clearly at near, far, and intermediate distances without wearing glasses. Extended depth-of-focus or multifocal IOLs may not be the best choice for you if you have glaucoma, macular degeneration, or another eye disease.
  • Light-Adjustable IOLs. Unlike other types of IOLs, light-adjustable intraocular lenses can be fine-tuned after your surgery if needed. Your ophthalmologist uses ultraviolet light treatments to reshape the lenses and sharpen your near, intermediate, or far vision. If you choose light-adjustable IOLs, you probably won't need glasses.

Costs vary depending on the type of IOL you pick. Medicare and private health insurance companies that cover cataract surgery may only pay for monofocal IOLs. If you prefer another type of lens, you will need to pay an additional fee.

Are your cataracts interfering with your vision? Schedule an appointment to discuss your cataract surgery options.


American Academy of Ophthalmology: Cataract Surgery: Risks, Recovery, and Costs, 7/25/2022


All About Vision: Will I Need Glasses After Cataract Surgery?, 1/14/2019


Review of Ophthalmology: Light Adjustable Lens: Practice Integration, 4/10/2023


American Academy of Ophthalmology: Factors to Consider in Choosing an IOL for Cataract Surgery, 12/12/2022



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