Presbyopia and cataracts are both age-related vision problems. And they both have to do with changes in your natural lens that occur as you get older.

The specific symptoms and changes to your lens are different with each condition. But, when treating lens conditions, the treatment is straightforward and the same no matter what you have.

Keep reading to learn about the difference between cataracts and presbyopia and how they affect your eyes. And find out if you can correct presbyopia during cataract surgery.

What is Presbyopia?

Presbyopia is the loss of close-up vision that often occurs around or after age forty. A healthy lens is flexible and can elongate or flatten to focus on objects at different distances.

But as you age, the lens becomes more rigid and less elastic. This stiffening makes your eyes unable to elongate and focus on up-close objects.

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Presbyopia effectively causes your lens to get stuck in a distance focusing position. Reading glasses become necessary to handle up-close tasks.

What are the Symptoms of Presbyopia?

The telltale sign of presbyopia is blurry vision when reading or doing things up-close. You might also find it is challenging to focus when transitioning between distances.

Additionally, your eyes will feel tired, and you may experience eye strain and headaches. Reading glasses can reduce these symptoms. But then you’re stuck relying on glasses for functional sight.

What are Cataracts?

A cataract is the clouding of your natural lens. Due to the natural aging process, the proteins in your eyes break down and clump together on your eye’s lens.

These clumps gradually build up, preventing light from passing through your lens. Eventually, they get so thick they interfere with normal vision. Untreated cataracts can cause complete vision loss. 

What are the Symptoms of Cataracts?

In the early stages of cataracts, it’s not likely that you’ll notice any vision changes. But with time, you may have the following symptoms:

  • Blurred vision
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Poor nighttime vision
  • Double vision in one eye
  • Colors appearing faded
  • Frequent prescription changes for contacts or glasses

Eventually, cataracts will get bad enough that they block your vision and interfere with your life. At this point, cataract surgery is your only option to get your eyesight back.

Correcting Presbyopia and Treating Cataracts

Doctor and patient

During cataract surgery, your surgeon removes the cataract-affected lens. This is the same lens that is inflexible due to presbyopia.

It’s important to note that this doesn’t automatically mean you can ditch your reading glasses. You may still need presbyopia-correcting lenses to improve up-close vision.

An intraocular lens or IOL replaces your old lens and provides clear vision. Depending on the type of lens you get, it may correct presbyopia too.

When your natural lens gets taken out, your rigid lens is gone. But, various IOLs may still need the help of reading glasses for up-close sight.

Presbyopia-correcting IOLs can give you a wide range of vision that other IOLs can’t provide. But to get this expanded vision, you’ll need to select a premium IOL or a monofocal IOL set to correct near vision.

Monofocal IOLs correct sight at one distance. Most people elect to correct distance vision with a monofocal IOL.

Correcting distance vision means you can see without glasses while driving or watching TV. But if you correct distance vision with a monofocal, you’ll still need reading glasses.

Premium or multifocal IOLs can correct vision at multiple distances. Depending on the IOL, you may never need glasses again with a multifocal IOL.

Medical insurance doesn’t cover premium IOLs. That means you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for a premium IOL.

But, in the long run, the vision benefits of these IOLs could be worth the extra cost.

What are Multifocal IOLs?

Multifocal IOLs are presbyopia-correcting lenses that deliver clear vision at multiple distances. Different multifocals come with varying focusing abilities. Some of these lenses include:

  • Tecnis Symfony® IOL, which provides a full range of vision and an extended depth of focus.
  • Tecnis Symfony® Toric IOL delivers the same vision benefits as the Symfony IOL while correcting astigmatism.
  • Technis® Multifocal IOL can restore a continuous, full range of vision even in low light.

People with multifocal IOLs experience more freedom from glasses. If you would like never to wear glasses again, a premium IOL is necessary.

For the vast majority of patients, vision is considerably improved within one day of cataract surgery. And it steadily becomes even better during the first week following the procedure.

What are Accommodating IOLs?

Just like a camera lens, your eye’s natural lens changes its focus, allowing you to see near or far objects. This process is accommodation.

With presbyopia, accommodation declines considerably, interfering with up-close tasks that need acute vision. During cataract surgery, you can get a presbyopic-correcting accommodating IOL implanted.

It delivers a continuous range of vision for near, distance, and everything between. This accommodation reduces or eliminates your dependence on glasses.

These implants only come with one lens power. But, the lens gets mounted on hinges allowing it to move back and forth in response to the muscles in your eyes.

When you perform up-close tasks like reading, the internal muscles of your eyes contract and move the lens. This contraction moves the accommodating lens forward so you can focus.

And when looking at far-away objects, the eye’s internal muscles relax. This relaxation draws the lens back to a position that offers crisp distance vision. 

How to Increase Your Chances of a Successful Cataract Surgery and Presbyopia-Correcting Procedure

Your surgeon’s experience and skills in cataract surgery are critical to successful outcomes. But you can play a role in the result of the procedure as well.

Happy So Cool GIF by Lillee Jean

Be sure plenty of rest beforehand and follow your eye doctor’s instructions. They will give you a list of things to do before your procedure.

If you follow everything they tell you to do, you increase your chances of an excellent outcome. While cataract surgery is safe, the procedure has some risks.

Following your pre-procedure instructions can help to minimize these. And, it gives you a better chance of superb visual outcomes afterward.

Can’t wait to start enjoying crisp, clear vision? Schedule a cataract screening at Joshi Eye Institute in Boynton Beach, FL. Get rid of your cataracts and presbyopia in one procedure!