Doctor explaining a trifocal IOL to patient

Characteristics of Multifocal Lenses: Trifocal IOLs

Clear vision at all distances

Trifocal lenses are the most advanced intraocular lenses (IOLs) available today, providing clear vision for close, intermediate and far distances, without gaps in between. They are designed to enable a high degree of independence from glasses for patients leading an active life and wishing to do without visual aids.

How Trifocal Lenses Work

Trifocal lenses work by bending the light entering the eye from near, intermediate and far distances, and focusing this light onto a single focal point on your retina. This enables you to focus on objects at different distances simultaneously, providing near, intermediate and distant vision through one lens. These modern IOL types reduce, or may eliminate, the need for glasses or contact lenses. Just like prescription glasses, your IOL will also be adjusted to your individual needs to give you the best vision possible.

How vision works with trifocal lenses
Elderly couple in front of a laptop

Trifocal Lenses in Daily Life

Unlike monofocal and bifocal lenses, trifocal lenses also provide comfortable intermediate vision, which is important for various daily activities, such as computer work.

With trifocal lenses, you can perform a range of activities in everyday life without glasses. This includes daily tasks such as:

  • Reading
  • Cooking, cleaning, ironing
  • Working at the computer
  • Shopping
  • Watching TV
  • Driving
  • Working in the garden
  • Playing sport or doing exercise
Doctor and patient after cataract treatment

Advantages of Trifocal Lenses

The biggest advantage of trifocal intraocular lenses is the possibility to see clearly at all distances without glasses.

As a result, you may no longer need to wear glasses when pursuing your daily activities.

Trifocal IOLs allow for the treatment of pre-existing vision disorders, such as myopia or hyperopia. With a toric version of the trifocal lens, pre-existing astigmatism can be corrected as well.

Trifocal intraocular lenses are also effective for treating age-related vision changes such as presbyopia, which affects nearly everyone after the age of 40. When you treat your cataract with a trifocal IOL you can take care of your presbyopia at the same time.

In short, ideal candidates for trifocal lenses are patients who would like to be completely independent from glasses or contact lenses.

Woman drinking coffee

What you should know

Like with all innovative technologies, there are also a few things to consider when choosing a trifocal lens.

If you suffer from eye diseases, such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular oedema, or macular degeneration, you may not be a suitable candidate for bifocal or trifocal lenses. These diseases, even in early stages, may be incompatible with premium intraocular lenses. If you suffer from one of these diseases, you can discuss alternative options with your ophthalmologist.

Light phenomena

One side effect connected with multifocal IOLs is a higher degree of visual disturbances and light phenomena (dysphotopsia), which are caused by the lens focusing light from multiple distances. These are normally perceived as

  • Glare in certain low lighting situations
  • Halos around light sources at night 

Most people with multifocal lenses find these phenomena only mildly disturbing and get used to them over time. However, there is also a small group of patients who do not adapt to this type of IOL lenses well or are very bothered by the side effects that may occur.

Decreased contrast sensitivity

Another consequence of the multifocality is a slightly less perfect image quality. This is due to the lens splitting light from different distances on the retina. Therefore, patients have to compromise a little on the image quality to gain the multifocal effect.

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