Multifocal Symfony Lens for Cataract Patients

Written by Dr. David Evans   Last modified on April 22, 2019

Nearly 25 percent of Americans over the age of 40 have cataracts, a condition marked by vision-impairing clouding of the lens. As high as that number is, consider that the American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates that prevalence will increase to 50 percent by the time they hit 75. Basically, as you get older, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll develop one or more cataracts. So it’s not a surprise that a ground-breaking cataract treatment would make big news in the world of ophthalmology.

ultra close up of an intraocular lens (IOL) on a fingertip

After a clouded cataract lens is removed, it is replaced with an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens or IOL. In July of 2016, the FDA approved a brand new type of IOL to be used in the treatment of cataracts: the Tecnis Symfony®. There are a number of great IOL technologies out there that your eye doctor can discuss with you, but my interest is admittedly piqued by the Symfony lens.

Traditional IOLs are effective, but only correct near or distance vision. (Most people opt for correction of distance vision and use reading glasses to see things up close.) Newer, more advanced multifocal IOLs are able to provide vision correction across multiple distances. This is great for people that don’t want the added hassle of wearing contacts or eye glasses. But they come with increased complaints of bothersome side effects such as loss in contrast sensitivity, halos, glare and nighttime dysphotopsia.

Proponents believe Symfony IOLs represent a multifocal breakthrough for a couple reasons.

  • They don’t have the same issues with loss of contrast, halos, glare and nighttime dysphotopsia that annoy many multifocal IOL patients.
  • They boast improved, continuous vision adaptation.

The first reason is important because the new lenses reduce or eliminate the typical side effects normally associated with multifocal IOLs. The second reason is what’s particularly interesting to ophthalmic surgeons and patients considering cataract surgery.

Standard multifocal IOLs cater to distinct focal points for varied distances. They offer correction for near and distance objects, but for all the points in between, they are not quite as adaptable. The Symfony lens boasts no drop off in vision regardless of the distance, meaning that the quality of vision should remain consistent over a wide range of viewing conditions.

Multifocal IOLs are considerably more expensive than traditional IOLs (meaning that the out-of-pocket cost of cataract surgery will go up), and patients often must pay out of pocket for the higher performance lenses. Cataract surgery using traditional lenses is covered by Medicare or insurance and all patients pay are their deductibles, like any other procedure. The additional cost can range from $1,000 to $2,500, depending on the surgeon, location and surgical technology used. The higher cost for the newer technology IOLs is why many people still opt for the traditional technology and simply use reading glasses after the cataracts are removed. But for those who are interested in a multifocal solution after cataract surgery and the potential freedom from all glasses or contact lenses, the Symfony lens could indeed be a game changer.

Check out our article on multifocal IOLs to learn more about this vision correction technology.

You can also check out the manufacturer’s site to read more about the Symfony lens:

Johnson & Johnson Vision – IOLs and Implants