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Will I Need Glasses After Cataract Surgery?

It depends.

If you choose standard cataract surgery with intraocular lens (IOL) implantation, it's likely you will need reading glasses and possibly computer glasses or other special-purpose eyewear afterward, depending on your visual needs.

But there also are cataract surgery options that can reduce or sometimes even eliminate your need for glasses. In particular, the combination of laser cataract surgery and premium implantable lenses such as multifocal IOLs and accommodating IOLs can provide excellent outcomes that enable many people to be glasses-free for much of their day.

Woman wearing glasses and thinking.
Modern cataract surgery often can eliminate or reduce the need for prescription eyeglasses and reading glasses.

Another option is monovision cataract surgery — where the power of the single vision IOL is customized in each eye to expand the range of clear vision when the two eyes are used together. In this scenario, the dominant eye provides sharper distance vision, and the non-dominant eye provides sharper near vision.

Still another option is to have a secondary refractive procedure after cataract surgery. For example, implantation of a presbyopia-correcting corneal inlay in one eye after cataract surgery improves near vision, reducing the need for reading glasses.

It's not unusual for minor refractive errors to be present after cataract surgery. These may be too insignificant to warrant additional surgery but still cause some blurriness — especially for tasks like driving at night.

Often, it's a good idea to purchase a pair of glasses for use as needed after cataract surgery. To see your best at all distances, progressive lenses often are the best solution.

If sensitivity to light is a problem, photochromic lenses that darken automatically in sunlight usually are a great choice. These are available in a variety of lens materials and designs, including progressive lenses.

Whatever glasses you choose, lenses with anti-reflective coating will give you the greatest comfort and clarity possible by eliminating annoying reflections in your glasses.

If you want the greatest freedom from eyeglasses possible, ask your cataract surgeon to discuss available options and the best choice for your visual needs during your pre-op eye exam and cataract surgery consultation.

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Dr. Vance ThompsonAbout the Reviewer: Vance Thompson, MD, FACS, is the director of refractive surgery at Vance Thompson Vision in Sioux Falls, S.D. He also is professor of ophthalmology at the Sanford USD School of Medicine, a leading researcher in technologies for laser and implant vision correction and a member of All About Vision's editorial advisory board.

Page updated August 2017

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