Accommodating IOLs

Medically Reviewed by: Dr. David Evans

reading glasses resting on top of an open book

Would you like to rid yourself of reading glasses and improve your distance vision at the same time? Are both cataracts and age-related farsightedness (presbyopia) affecting your lifestyle? If you answered yes to either of these questions, accommodating intraocular lens implants (IOLs) may be the solution you’ve been looking for.

Accommodating IOLs are used in two procedures: refractive lens exchange (RLE) if you do not have cataracts and refractive cataract surgery if you do. They cannot be used to treat astigmatism, but you can choose to have a separate laser eye surgery procedure to address your astigmatism if you wish.

In the U.S., only one brand of accommodating IOL is currently available: Crystalens.

Check out the following video to learn more, or continue reading about Crystalens risks, costs and candidacy.

Why Choose Crystalens Accommodating IOLs?

The Crystalens Accommodating IOL is an innovative implantable lens that can kill two birds with one stone, correcting your nearsightedness, farsightedness or cataracts while also treating presbyopia to reduce your dependence on reading glasses.

How does it work? When your eye’s ciliary muscle contracts, the lens moves forward, increasing its magnifying power so that you can see up close (reading vision). When the muscle relaxes, the lens returns to its original position so that you see things in the distance clearly. Following surgery, you will be able to see at multiple distances.

The entire procedure takes just 15 to 20 minutes. What’s more, it is an outpatient procedure, so you can go home right after your surgery. You should see well without glasses virtually right away, and you’ll be back to your everyday routine the day after surgery. It may take a several months for final results to appear.

Risks & Potential Complications

All surgical procedures have potential risks, complications and drawbacks, including the procedures that involve implanting Crystalens accommodating IOLs. While your up-close vision will almost certainly be far better following surgery, there is a good chance you will need to continue wearing reading glasses for some tasks, like reading the menu in the darkest restaurants. Also, if the ciliary muscles and zonules that attach to the lens capsule are in particularly poor condition, the procedure may be ineffective. Should this occur, the lenses will still help you see better at distance but will not help with near vision.

Are You a Candidate?

There are certain requirements you must meet to have RLE or refractive cataract surgery with Crystalens accommodating lenses.

First, you must be 21 years old. Typically patients who want this lens are over 45 and are experiencing presbyopia.

It is also important that your vision be stable for six months prior to your surgery, and that you have no history of eye disease (other than cataracts).

In addition, it is imperative that you have realistic expectations. Accommodating IOLs will not restore your near vision to where it was before you developed presbyopia. And changes related to age may continue to affect your vision.

You also need to understand and accept the risks involved with accommodating IOLs.

The best candidates for refractive cataract surgery with accommodating IOLs are those with hyperopia (farsightedness) and cataracts.

Those without cataracts who had good vision before presbyopia set in are also excellent candidates.

How Much Do Accommodating IOLs Cost?

Crystalens accommodating IOLs are considered “premium” IOLs and therefore cost more than traditional IOLs. If you are having refractive cataract surgery with Crystalens IOLs, you will likely have to pay the difference between the charge for traditional monofocal IOLs and the cost of your Crystalens lenses. Pricing varies, but it may cost you up to $2,500 per eye out of pocket, or perhaps more.