Cataract surgery replaces the cloudy lens inside the eye with an artificial lens. Cataracts are common as you age, and surgery is usually safe and effective. Depending on your replacement lens, you may need glasses after cataract surgery.

A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens inside the eye due to many different causes, like aging, toxic exposures, or injury. Cataract surgery is a procedure where the damaged lens from your eye is removed and replaced with an artificial lens implant.

Cataracts become more common as you get older, and more than half of Americans over age 80 develop them. Cataract surgery is usually a safe and effective procedure, but you may need to wear glasses after the surgery, depending on what type of artificial lens is implanted.

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The lens is a curved piece of clear tissue in your eye. Situated behind your pupil, it changes the way light enters your eye and helps you focus your vision at different distances.

Cataract surgery involves replacing the lens in your eye with an artificial replacement called an intraocular lens (IOL). Whether you’ll need glasses after cataract surgery largely depends on what type of IOL you get.

There are many IOL options. Take the time to talk with your eye surgeon beforehand so that you make the choice that’s right for you

The main types of IOLs include:

  • Monofocal: Monofocal IOLs are the most common, and also the only IOL that is usually covered by Medicaid and private health insurance. They focus at only one distance, either close, far, or intermediate range. Most people get them for distance vision.
  • Multifocal: Multifocal IOLs provide both distant and near focus at the same time. They contain different zones, shaped like concentric rings, that allow you to focus on objects far away as well as objects close up.
  • Extended depth of focus: Extended depth of focus IOLs have only one corrective zone. This zone is stretched to allow distance and intermediate vision.
  • Accommodative: Accommodative IOLs change shape like your eye’s natural lens to allow you to focus at different distances.
  • Toric: Toric IOLs correct astigmatism, a vision issue that’s caused by an irregularly shaped cornea.
  • Light-adjustable lens (LAL): This newer type of IOL is the only one that can be customized after surgery. Adjustments are done through a series of office-based light treatment procedures.

In one study from 2017, 81% of subjects who had cataract surgery in both eyes regularly wore glasses before their procedure. After the procedure, only 49% regularly wore glasses.

If you get a monofocal IOL, you’ll need glasses or contacts to see outside your lens’s focus range. For instance, if you opt for an IOL for distance vision, you may still need glasses for reading or to see things clearly up close.

If you’re having surgery in both eyes, you may have the option to choose monovision to reduce the need for glasses. Monovision involves selecting the focusing power of one IOL for distance and the other for near sight.

If you get multifocal IOLs, you may find that your vision is still blurry when focusing at certain distances, and you may need to wear glasses to focus in this range.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, most people with accommodative IOLs don’t need to wear glasses, but some people still prefer to do so for long periods of reading or activities that require near vision.

The type of glasses you’ll need after cataract surgery will depend on what type of IOL you receive.

In the case of a monofocal IOL, most people receive an IOL with distance vision correction and wear glasses for reading and activities that involve near vision. Some people get IOL lenses for near vision and wear glasses for distance vision.

If you have IOLs that allow you to focus at different distances, you may still find certain distances are blurry. In this case, you may want to wear glasses that allow you to see clearly at those distances.

Here are some frequently asked questions about glasses after cataract surgery.

How long should you wait before getting new prescription glasses after cataract surgery?

It’s important to wait for your eyes to fully heal and your vision to stabilize before getting a new prescription. Eye doctors often recommend waiting around 6 weeks after your surgery before having your eyes tested and getting new glasses.

Are there any signs that indicate you need new glasses?

It’s typical to have some blurriness and trouble seeing for a few days after cataract surgery. If you notice persistent changes to your vision, you may need to change your prescription.

Some vision changes you might notice include:

How do you know which glasses are right for you?

After you’ve healed from your cataract surgery, your eye doctor will perform an updated refraction to determine which eyeglass prescription is best for you. It’s most common that people who undergo cataract surgery will need reading glasses after their vision has stabilized.

Cataract surgery is typically a safe and effective procedure that can correct vision blurriness or cloudiness caused by cataracts.

The most common type of replacement lens is a monofocal IOL. These lenses allow your eye to focus at only one distance: either near, far, or intermediate. Most people get monofocal IOLs for distance vision and wear glasses for reading.

You may not need glasses if you get multifocal lenses that allow you to see at multiple distances. Be sure to talk with your eye doctor if you’re unsure about what type of IOL you need and whether you’ll need glasses after cataract surgery.