Types of Lenses

When the eye surgeon removes your cataract lens, you will need something to replace it so that you can focus and see clearly. You have three choices to replace your own lens:

Intraocular Lenses

Intraocular lenses (IOLs) replace your cataract, or cloudy lens. If you have certain eye diseases or problems which prevent safe placement of an IOL, you will need either contact lenses or cataract glasses in order to see clearly after surgery.

Learn More

Contact Lenses

If you are unable to have an IOL implant, you may opt to wear contact lenses after cataract surgery.

By wearing a contact lens on your operated eye, you will be able to see about as well as you did before the cataract developed. These lenses cannot cure all your vision problems. You may still need glasses for close-up work.

There are two types of contact lenses: daily-wear and extended-wear. You must remove daily-wear contact lenses before you go to sleep. You can wear extended-wear contact lenses for longer periods of time. Extended-wear contact lenses are usually prescribed for people who would have trouble inserting and removing daily wear contacts (for example, people with severe arthritis).

If you need to wear contact lenses after surgery, your doctor will show you how to insert and remove them, as well as clean and care for them. Learning to use contacts takes some effort. Not everyone can wear them. Contact lenses are safe and easy to use, but they can cause problems. If you have excessive redness, watering, light sensitivity or pain, you should call your eye doctor right away.

Cataract Glasses

Cataract glasses may be an option if you cannot have an IOL implant or if you cannot wear contact lenses. Cataract glasses are also safe and relatively inexpensive, but they may take some getting used to after surgery. The lenses in cataract glasses are different from regular eyeglasses, so you will see things in a different way. Objects will look larger (by about 25%) and may seem to appear suddenly in your side vision (peripheral field of vision). Vertical lines may appear curved, and it may be hard to judge distances.

If you have cataracts in both eyes but only have surgery in one eye, your eyes won’t be able to work together when you wear cataract glasses after surgery. The glasses lens for your operated eye makes things appear larger while your other eye will view images as they truly are. Your brain won’t be able to put the two images together for normal (binocular) vision. You will have this condition, called monocular aphakia (one eye without a lens), until after your second cataract operation.