Pros And Cons Of Light Adjustable Lens In Cataract Surgery

Jun 05, 2024
 – Besser Eye Care Team
  • Cataracts

What is light adjustable lens cataract surgery? Learn about how a new light adjustable lens offers more flexibility post surgery.

A Light Adjustable Lens is a type of intraocular lens that patients may select following cataract surgery. This Light Adjustable Lens can be customized to allow patients to alter their vision after surgery.

There are a number of considerations patients must make when considering a Light Adjustable Lens. Understanding the pros and cons of light adjustable lenses can help patients make an informed choice that is best for their eyes, preferences, and lifestyle.

What are cataracts?

Light adjustable lens cataract surgery is a treatment for cataracts. A cataract is the clouding of the normally clear lens in the eye.

In a healthy eye, the lens bends and refracts light, allowing patients to see clearly. If a patient develops a cataract, this normally clear lens begins to cloud.

As the lens continues to cloud, patients may experience other issues such as blurry vision, trouble reading, or in serious cases, vision loss.

What is cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery is typically recommended for patients with severe cataracts that disrupt day-to-day activities, or if a cataract gets in the way of other eye treatments and diagnosis.

During surgery, the eye doctor will remove the patient's cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial or intraocular lens (IOL). This clear lens allows the patient to enjoy clearer, crisper vision.

Cataract surgery is considered safe and effective, with a success rate of around 98%.

Intraocular lens options

An intraocular lens is the lens that will be implanted in a patient’s eye during cataract surgery. Patients will have a number of intraocular lenses to choose from.

Different lens types will suit different patients depending on their conditions, budget, and the results they hope to achieve. For instance, some patients may be content with the monofocal lens typically implanted during cataract surgery.

However, other patients may prefer a more advanced lens that can correct other vision problems. These can include presbyopia-correcting lenses or a toric lens that corrects for astigmatism.

What is a Light Adjustable Lens?

A Light Adjustable Lens is a type of intraocular lens whose power can be adjusted following cataract surgery. This gives patients more flexibility and allows them to have a choice in what vision they want post-surgery.

These specialty lenses contain light sensitive molecules which alter the power and shape of the implanted lens in response to ultraviolet (UV) light. The alterations cause both the lenses and their power to change, allowing doctors to adjust the lenses to correct for conditions like astigmatism, nearsightedness, or farsightedness.

Adjustable lenses vs fixed lenses

Most intraocular lens options are known as fixed lenses. This means that once they are implanted, patients cannot adjust the lens. Before implanting a fixed lens, patients and their doctor will have to decide which lens they want, as the lens cannot be adjusted later.

Adjustable lenses, including the Light Adjustable Lens, can be altered following surgery. If a patient would like, they can ask their doctor to adjust the lens to fit their personal preferences and lifestyle choices.

Light Adjustable Lens post surgery

Following cataract surgery, patients will have several follow-up appointments to heal their eyes and customize their Light Adjustable Lens. In these follow-up procedures the doctor will use UV light to reshape the lens to a patient’s preferences.

Most patients will receive 1 to 3 light treatments in the weeks following their initial cataract surgery. These are followed by at least two “lock-in” treatments to stabilize the lens and prevent future changes.

While a patient’s vision is adjusting post surgery, they will be required to wear glasses that block UV light. This protects the patient from harmful UV light rays which can alter the Light Adjustable Lens and prevent it from locking in during the weeks following surgery.

The pros of Light Adjustable Lenses

The primary advantage of a Light Adjustable Lens is they can be adjusted after surgery. When the eye is fully healed, patients can select their desired visual acuity and make changes in the future to correct for conditions like myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism.

In comparison, patients who select a fixed lens will need to decide on their vision preferences prior to surgery, and will not be able to make quick adjustments once the procedure is complete.

Other advantages of selecting a Light Adjustable Lens include:

  • More precise: Light Adjustable Lenses are often better at reducing biometric errors and providing better power calculations.

  • Reduces need for glasses: Patients with a Light Adjustable Lens are more likely to achieve 20/20 vision and less likely to need glasses or contacts after surgery.

  • Flexible + easy to adjust: Patients can customize lenses after surgery, without the need for an invasive treatment.

The cons of Light Adjustable Lenses

The primary disadvantages of light adjustable lenses are cost and availability. The standard monofocal lenses used in cataract surgery are cheaper and typically covered by insurance. Many patients will need to pay for the cost of these specialty lenses out of pocket.

Additionally, Light Adjustable Lenses are relatively new and may not be available to everyone. Patients should consult with their clinic and eye doctor to see if they have these types of specialty lenses.

Other disadvantages of selecting a Light Adjustable Lens include:

  • More appointments: Patients may have to schedule and attend multiple appointments to adjust the lenses to their preference.

  • UV light: Patients will need to make extra effort to avoid sun and UV light following the initial surgery and future adjustments.

  • Eligibility: Not all patients will be eligible for a Light Adjustment Lens

Which lens should patients choose?

This will depend on the needs and the preferences of the particular patient. Light Adjustable Lenses are more expensive than other types of intraocular lenses. If cost is a concern, patients may prefer a more affordable lens.

Woman thinking about which light adjustable lens to choose

However, some patients may prefer the personalization that a Light Adjustable Lens provides. While the lenses cost more, they give patients the ability to alter the power of the lens after surgery, allowing for more flexibility.

This can also ease stress both before and after cataract surgery, as patients don’t need to make a final decision about their desired vision. Light Adjustable Lenses give patients the choice to make non-invasive adjustments at a later time.

If patients have concerns about which lens type matches their personal preferences and unique situation, they should contact their eye doctor for further guidance.


If you’re in the Los Angeles area and would like to learn more about the pros and cons of light adjustable lenses, please contact Dr. Besser's office for a consultation.

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