Monofocal and Multifocal IOLs in Cataract Surgery

Choosing Between Monofocal and Multifocal IOLs in Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is a common procedure that can significantly improve your vision and quality of life. One of the most important decisions you will make regarding this surgery is the type of intraocular lens (IOL) to be implanted. This blog will help you understand the differences between monofocal and multifocal IOLs and important considerations to help you make an informed choice.

Understanding Intraocular Lenses (IOLs)

Intraocular lenses (IOLs) are artificial lenses implanted in the eye to replace the eye’s natural lens when it is removed as part of cataract surgery. The primary function of an IOL is to restore clear vision.

Types of IOLs

There are several types of IOLs used in cataract surgery, but in this blog we will focus on monofocal and multifocal IOLs.

Monofocal IOLs

Monofocal IOLs are designed to provide clear vision at one specific distance. They are typically set for distance vision, in which case the person will likely need reading glasses for close-up tasks.

Benefits of Monofocal IOLs

  • Clear distance vision: Monofocal IOLs provide excellent vision for most daily activities like driving and watching TV.
  • Lower cost: These lenses are generally less expensive than multifocal IOLs.
  • Fewer visual disturbances: Patients are less likely to experience issues like halos or glare following cataract surgery. 

Considerations for Monofocal IOLs

  • Need for reading glasses: Since monofocal IOLs focus on one distance, you will need glasses for some activities, typically reading.
  • Intermediate vision: Some patients might require glasses for intermediate tasks, such as working on a computer.

Multifocal IOLs

Multifocal IOLs are designed to provide vision at multiple distances, reducing the need for glasses. They have multiple focus points, allowing you to see at near, intermediate, and far distances.

Benefits of Multifocal IOLs

  • Reduced dependence on glasses: Multifocal IOLs can reduce (and sometimes eliminate) the need for glasses for most activities.
  • Convenience: These lenses offer a more seamless vision experience, particularly beneficial for active individuals.

Considerations for Multifocal IOLs

  • Visual disturbances: Some patients may experience halos, glare, or reduced contrast sensitivity, especially at night.
  • Higher cost: Multifocal IOLs are generally more expensive than monofocal IOLs.
  • Adjustment period: The brain needs time to adapt to the new vision pattern, which can vary from person to person.

Comparing Monofocal and Multifocal IOLs

CriteriaMonofocal IOLsMultifocal IOLs
Visual outcomesProvide excellent vision for one focus (usually set for distance), but require glasses for near and sometimes intermediate tasks.Offer good vision at multiple distances but may come with visual disturbances.
Lifestyle considerationsIdeal for those who don’t mind using glasses for reading or close work.Suitable for active individuals who prefer minimal dependence on glasses.
Cost analysisGenerally less expensive, making them a cost-effective choice.Involve higher costs but offer the convenience of reduced need for glasses.
Visual disturbancesLower risk of halos and glare.Higher potential for visual disturbances, which may diminish over time.

Patient Suitability

Factors to consider

  • Age and lifestyle: Consider your daily activities and vision needs.
  • Pre-existing eye conditions: Discuss any existing eye conditions with your ophthalmologist as they can affect the choice of IOL.

Consultation with an ophthalmologist

  • Importance of personalised advice: Your eye care professional will help determine the best IOL based on your specific needs.
  • Expectations and desired outcomes: Discuss what you hope to achieve with your vision post-surgery.

Advances in IOL Technology

Latest Innovations

  • Newer IOL technologies are continually being developed, offering improved vision outcomes and fewer side effects.
  • Innovations such as extended depth-of-focus (EDoF) lenses aim to provide better intermediate vision with minimal visual disturbances.

Future Trends

  • The field of ophthalmology is rapidly evolving, with ongoing research promising even better options for cataract surgery patients.


In conclusion, choosing between monofocal and multifocal IOLs depends on your lifestyle, visual needs, and budget. Monofocal IOLs offer excellent distance vision but require glasses for close work, making them a cost-effective option with fewer visual disturbances. Multifocal IOLs reduce dependence on glasses by providing good vision at multiple distances, though they may cause halos and glare at least initially.

For personalised advice on the best IOL for you, schedule a consultation today. Contact us and start your journey to clearer vision.

Author Bio

Dr Parth Shah is a leading ophthalmologist in Canberra, specialising in cataract surgery. With extensive training and experience, he is renowned for his expertise in the field. Dr Shah is dedicated not only to performing successful surgeries but also to patient education. His compassionate approach, combined with technical proficiency, has earned him the trust and gratitude of countless patients. He is a true advocate for eye health and a trusted name in the Canberra ophthalmology community.


  1. What is the recovery time after cataract surgery with monofocal or multifocal IOLs?
  • Recovery time is generally similar for both types of IOLs. Most patients can resume normal activities within a few days, but complete healing may take several weeks. Your surgeon will provide specific guidelines based on your individual case.

2. Can I have one eye with a monofocal IOL and the other with a multifocal IOL? 

  • This is possible and is known as “mix and match.” It aims to combine the benefits of both types of lenses. Your ophthalmologist can advise if this approach is suitable for you.

3. Will I need glasses after cataract surgery with multifocal IOLs? 

  • Many patients with multifocal IOLs experience reduced dependence on glasses for most activities. However, some might still need glasses for specific tasks, particularly in low-light conditions or for very fine print.

4. Are there any long-term risks associated with multifocal IOLs? 

  • Multifocal IOLs are generally safe, but some patients might experience persistent halos, glare, or difficulty with night vision. These side effects usually diminish over time as the brain adapts.

5. How do I know which IOL is best for me? 

  • The best IOL for you depends on your lifestyle, vision needs, and any pre-existing eye conditions. A thorough consultation with your ophthalmologist, including a discussion of your daily activities and vision goals, will help determine the most suitable option.

6. Are multifocal IOLs covered by insurance? 

  • Coverage for multifocal IOLs varies by insurance plan. While standard monofocal IOLs are usually covered, multifocal IOLs might require an out-of-pocket expense. Check with your insurance provider for specific details.

7. Can I drive immediately after cataract surgery? 

  • You should not drive immediately after cataract surgery. Most patients can resume driving once their vision has stabilised and they feel comfortable, usually in about a week. Always follow your surgeon’s recommendations.

8. How long do IOLs last? 

  • IOLs are designed to be permanent and typically last a lifetime. They usually do not degrade or need replacement.

9. What if I have astigmatism? 

  • If you have astigmatism, toric IOLs, which are a type of IOL, can correct this issue. Both monofocal and multifocal IOLs come in toric versions. Your ophthalmologist can discuss the best option for correcting astigmatism during cataract surgery.