Skip to main navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer For Medicare For Providers For Brokers For Employers Español For Individuals & Families: For Individuals & Families Medical Dental Other Supplemental Explore coverage through work How to Buy Health Insurance Types of Dental Insurance Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment See all topics Shop for Medicare plans Member Guide Find a Doctor Log in to myCigna
Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library Intraocular Lens (IOL) Implants

Intraocular Lens (IOL) Implants

Overview

Here are some examples of when IOLs may be used.

To replace a lens after cataract surgery

Surgery for cataracts involves removing the natural lens of the eye that contains the cataract. The lens may be replaced with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens implant (IOL). Or you may wear eyeglasses or contact lenses to compensate for the missing lens.

The most common replacement is an IOL. Before having surgery, review with your doctor the pros and cons 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 aren't 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.

To correct nearsightedness, with or without cataracts

An IOL may be used for nearsightedness whether or not you have a cataract.

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:

  • When the surgeon replaces the eye's natural lens with an IOL, it's called "clear lens extraction."
  • When the surgeon does not remove the eye's natural lens, the IOL implants are called "phakic intraocular lenses" or "implantable contact lenses." These IOLs are placed in front of the natural lens, either in front of or behind the iris.

Cataracts that begin in the center of the lens (nuclear cataracts) are the most common cause of nearsightedness getting worse in adults.

Types of IOLs

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 vision.

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 properly.

When thinking about how an IOL will affect your vision following cataract surgery, some types of IOL to consider are:

Multifocal (or accommodative) IOLs.

This type of intraocular lens design provides correction for both near and distance vision, and both near and far objects can be in focus at the same time. Your brain must learn to select the visual information it needs to form an image of either near or distant objects, so multifocal IOLs may require some adjustment. A person may adjust better to multifocal IOLs if they are placed in both eyes. This type of lens is not an option for some people. It may be considered a premium lens, so it might cost more than a monofocal IOL.

Monofocal IOLs.

This type of intraocular lens is designed for either near or distance vision. If you have this type of IOL implanted in your eye(s), you will probably need to also wear glasses. For example, it is common for the IOLs to be chosen to provide better distance vision than near vision. Then glasses are used for sharp near vision.

Toric IOLs.

This is a type of monofocal IOL that helps correct astigmatism. It may be considered a premium lens, so it might cost more than a monofocal IOL.

Talk to your eye doctor about the pros and cons of each type of IOL.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Related Links

Nearsightedness (Myopia) Cataracts Cataracts: Questions About Surgery

<cipublic-spinner variant="large"><span>Loading…</span></cipublic-spinner>

Page Footer

I want to...

Get an ID card File a claim View my claims and EOBs Check coverage under my plan See prescription drug list Find an in-network doctor, dentist, or facility Find a form Find 1095-B tax form information View the Cigna Glossary Contact Cigna

Audiences

Individuals and Families Medicare Employers Brokers Providers

Secure Member Sites

myCigna member portal Health Care Provider portal Cigna for Employers Client Resource Portal Cigna for Brokers

Cigna Company Information

About Cigna Company Profile Careers Newsroom Investors Suppliers Third Party Administrators International Evernorth

 Cigna. All rights reserved.

Privacy Legal Product Disclosures Cigna Company Names Customer Rights Accessibility Non-Discrimination Notice [PDF] Language Assistance [PDF] Report Fraud Sitemap

Disclaimer

Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities  that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.

Selecting these links will take you away from Cigna.com to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details