Types of Intraocular Lens Materials

Biomaterials with amazing results.

Materials continue to improve, becoming more pliable and biostable and giving lensmakers greater freedom to address specific vision needs. The earliest IOLs were made with a thermal plastic, a material that improved dramatically over the years, but still had inherent restrictions for microsurgery. Today’s state-of-the-art acrylics offer better plasticity and stability and give surgeons superior control during microsurgery.

Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)

Once the standard for excellence, these lenses are not as pliable and conducive to micro procedures as newer materials. Occasionally, however, some patients require a material with less flex, in which case your surgeon may recommend a PMMA lens.


Also a popular choice that is giving way to advanced acrylics better suited to microincisions. Still, certain biomaterial advantages make silicone lenses the ideal choice for some patients. Your Edina Eye surgeon will explain why you may or may not be a candidate for a silicone IOL.

Hydrophobic Acrylic

Today’s most popular choice in part because it’s easy to fold and ideally suited for microsurgery. Most Edina Eye lens implants are performed with these advanced acrylics and we cannot speak highly enough of their qualities and success rate. There are different types available, and your surgeon will help you understand which qualities you need and which lens material best suits your needs.

Types of Intraocular Lenses

Your surgeon will help you choose the ideal lens for you.

This is an exciting time for people requiring an intraocular lens implant, as your choices are now safer and more effective than ever. Your Edina Eye surgeon is an expert on all available lenses and how their individual benefits pertain to each patient’s needs.

Monofocal Lens Implants

These lenses have been around longest and are still the most common IOLs. Though the quality of materials and designs continue to improve, the function of the lens remains constant. A monofocal IOL has equal power in all regions and a single zone of clear focus, producing excellent vision from a determined distance.

Most patients choose lenses that focus at a far-away point. This gives them excellent distance vision, but also requires they wear glasses for near-vision needs like reading. A smaller number of patients choose lenses that focus at a nearby point. This gives them excellent near vision, but means they need to wear glasses to see distant objects.

Some patients choose distance vision for one lens and near vision for the other (called monovision) and rely on the brain’s natural tendency to compensate, often producing excellent vision near and far. Your surgeon will discuss this option and explain the key role your dominant eye plays in the decision.

Multifocal Lens Implants

These special lenses continue to evolve with designs that offer a variety of regions with different power and several zones of clear vision within a single lens, allowing patients to see a continuous range of vision from long, intermediate and near distances. Results vary depending on each person’s eyes and IOL choice, but the vast majority of patients with multifocal lens implants achieve excellent levels of clarity and a general improvement over a broad range of vision. Rings and halos can occur, and your surgeon will discuss these concerns with you to make sure you understand all aspects of your options.

After implantation, many patients can read fine print and see well from a distance, a dramatic improvement unachievable not too many years ago. This includes people with presbyobia. A majority of patients with multifocal IOLs never wear eyeglasses or contact lenses again. One issue patients need to consider is how much of the cost will be covered by Medicare and private insurance. Policies vary, but at this point in time, much of the cost is often the responsibility of the patient.

Accommodating Lens Implants

These revolutionary IOLs flex like a human lens to achieve the continuous range of vision a person would have naturally. The lens accommodates itself to the shape of the eye, literally changing its shape and allowing itself to focus on both far and near objects. After implantation, patients typically function well without glasses for distance and intermediate viewing and often do not even require glasses for casual reading. Glasses are typically needed for fine print and micro tasks. Here, also, Medicare and private insurance restrictions apply.

Toric Lens Implants

The only lens type that can correct astigmatism, toric IOLs have different powers in different areas of the lens that align with the patient’s vision correction requirements. This alignment demands the lens be positioned in a precise configuration, placing greater emphasis on your surgeon’s expertise and surgical skill.

Correcting astigmatism often required making microincisions to alter the cornea’s shape, but advanced toric designs have eliminated much of this need. Some severe astigmatisms still require a combination of incisions and implants, but typically toric lenses are implanted and function as flawlessly as other implants. They also typically reduce the power of your glasses at all distances and can minimize your need to wear glasses for distance vision. Again, Medicare and private insurance restrictions apply.