Intraocular Lens Implant

What Is an Intraocular Lens Implant?

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

The Implant

An intraocular lens implant, or IOL, is made of a clear plastic, and it’s about a third the size of a dime. There are several different types:

  • Monofocal IOL: This is the most common. Unlike your natural lens, which can stretch or bend to help your eye focus, this implant stays focused at one fixed distance. If yours focuses at a distance, you might be able to see things far away but need glasses to read or see close up.
  • Multifocal implant: Like glasses with bifocal or progressive lenses, this lens has areas that help you see things at different distances. It could take several months for your brain to adapt so your vision seems natural. It can sometimes cause more halos or glare around lights than a monofocal lens.
  • Accommodating IOL: This flexible option acts more like your natural lens and focuses at more than one distance. It makes you less likely to need reading glasses.
  • Toric IOL: You’ll get this if you have astigmatism, or a cornea that’s more football-shaped than round. This can make vision blurry all over, not just close up or far away. This lens lessens astigmatism so you won’t need glasses to correct it after your surgery.

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.



To get you ready, your doctor will:

  • Measure your eye. This will help them pick the right implant for you.
  • Give you medicated eye drops to take for a few days ahead of time
  • Ask you to stop taking some medicines or to skip wearing contact lenses for several days beforehand

On the day of surgery, they’ll:

  • Numb your eye
  • Give you a drug to help you relax. You may see light during the procedure, but you should feel nothing or only a gentle pressure.
  • Make a tiny cut through your cornea to get to the lens
  • Break the lens up into pieces and remove it bit by bit
  • Put the implant in place
  • Let the cut heal by itself — no stitches
  • You can usually go home in less than an hour, but you’ll need someone else to drive.


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 are more common.

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