Premium lenses are giving patients new choices when they face cataract surgery. Beyond replacing the cataracts, these premium lenses can correct other vision problems and offer more options than ever before.

The basic lens many patients receive during cataract surgery – which is covered by Medicare and private insurance – can reduce your overall glasses prescription, but does not address astigmatism or that you will need reading glasses. This leaves many people still needing glasses full time.

Today’s premium lenses, however, can correct astigmatism and reduce the need for glasses at all ranges of vision. Patients getting premium lenses must pay the extra cost not covered by their insurance.

“It’s the difference between a Ford and a Cadillac,” said Dr. Stephen Hammond Jr., a board-certified ophthalmologist who specializes in cataract surgery and premium lens cataract surgery. “The Ford will run just fine, but the Cadillac offers many extra benefits.”

Cataracts – a result of the aging process – are a clouding of the lens that affects vision. Cataract surgery removes the cloudy lens and replaces it with an artificial lens.

Dr. Hammond described two levels of premium lenses:

  • The first corrects astigmatism. Though they will still need glasses for near vision, “patients are universally excited when they get this lens; it adds a ‘wow’ factor,” he said.
  • The second level of premium lens offers good vision at both near and far. “At this time we can get good vision from arms length and into the distance,” Dr. Hammond said. “For example, when driving, both the dashboard and the street signs would be clear. This lens does require proper patient selection and a healthy eye to get the best results .”

Even with premium lenses, some people will need glasses to read small print or to read in low lighting levels, and some will see halos when they drive at night.

Each patient’s needs are different, he said. “It’s important to discuss the various types of lenses with your doctor before your cataract surgery.”