Will Cataract Surgery Give Me 20/20 Vision?

Published June 29, 2020

How does cataract surgery help to improve vision?

As cataracts develop and cloud the eye’s natural lens, significant visual distortions begin to impact the ability to see clearly. As cataracts worsen, they threaten vision clarity to the point that performance of many routine activities becomes quite challenging.

Cataract surgery involves replacing the eye’s natural lens with an artificial lens to improve clarity of vision.

What is an artificial lens?

An artificial lens, called an intraocular lens (IOL) is a tiny lens that serves as your new eye lens. The IOL bends, or refracts the light rays that enter your eye, to enable clear vision.

Will an IOL give me 20/20 vision? 

Prior to cataract surgery, your eye doctor will use an ultrasound test to take precise measurements of the size and shape of your eye. These measurements will help your eye doctor to determine the most appropriate type of IOL, as well as how to accurately position the IOL. An effective lens position will enable the possibility of achieving 20/20 vision.

Equally important, is the exact calculation of your refractive error. Your eye doctor will calculate a precise measurement of your optical prescription prior to your scheduled surgery, in order to ensure that the correct power is attributed to your IOL. An accurate calculation of your refractive error will help you to achieve the 20/20 vision you are anticipating.

However, even with precise measurements, the IOL can move slightly during surgery, causing it’s position to shift as well. Your eye doctor will reexamine your eyes the next day, to determine if your IOL has remained in it’s correct position. In a case where the IOL has moved, your eye doctor can easily reposition the lens.

While many people will obtain 20/20 vision from their IOL, 30 to 50 percent of people will still need glasses after surgery, if they have chosen a monofocal IOL.

Different types of IOLs

There are many types of IOLs for different types of refractive errors:

  • Fixed-focus monofocal. This type of IOL contains a single focus strength for distance vision. With this IOL, reading glasses will typically be required if you also have difficulty with near vision.
  • Accommodating-focus monofocal. This type of IOL also contains a single focusing strength, but can switch focus from near to distant objects in response to eye muscle movements.
  • Multifocal. This type of IOL contains specific areas for different focusing strengths— enabling clear vision for near, intermediate and distant objects.
  • Astigmatism correction. This type of IOL is called a toric lens, and helps to correct a significant astigmatism to further improve vision clarity.

Will I be able to feel the IOL?

Intraocular lenses become a permanent part of your eye. While they are made of plastic, acrylic, or silicone, you won’t be able to see them or feel them once they are implanted.

Which type of IOL is right for me?

There are a variety of IOLs that can be customized to your optical prescription and personal needs. While there is no guarantee that cataract surgery will give you 20/20 vision, with new advances in technology your chances are quite high.

Schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to discuss the benefits of cataract surgery, and determine which type of IOL is right for you.