NHS Monofocal Cataract Lenses - A Poor Choice? | Advanced Vision Care

Why NHS Monofocal Cataract Lenses are a Poor Choice

Cataract surgery is a fantastic procedure that can vastly improve your vision and prevent the blindness that is eventually caused by the disease, yet depending on the clinic and surgeon you choose, the results can be highly variable.

In all cases, a small intra-ocular lens (IOL) is implanted your eye to replace the damaged and afflicted lens. However, there are a variety of artificial lenses available to replace your natural lens, the different types provide different visual results. Dependent on the clinic you choose there will be either one type or a range of lenses available, hence it is important you know how each performs before undertaking surgery.

To discover the best solution for you, we will compare the current treatments available from both the NHS and the private sector.


NHS Options – Monofocal Lenses

monofocal lenses

If you choose to have this surgery with the NHS, not only will you face a long wait (6 months or longer is increasingly common), but you will only have access to a single type of artificial lens. Monofocal lenses are the standard in NHS treatments, and although they will improve your eyesight, it is likely that you will still require visual aids after the operation.

A Monofocal IOL is an intraocular lens that allows a fixed focus for one focal point. The cataract surgeon will select a Monofocal lens that is suitable for either near or distance focus. Only one of these options can be selected and as a result there will have to be an element of visual assistance post-treatment, meaning that the patient will depend on spectacles for reading or driving.


Private Clinics

While the NHS treatments are restricted by budgetary costs, by choosing to go private you can have access to a wider range of options. Multifocal lenses have been scientifically proven to lead to better near vision and they mean you are less likely to depend on glasses after surgery. Trifocal lenses are an improvement on this design and provide more than two lens powers; restoring near, intermediate and distance vision.

cataract treatment

Depending on the clinic you select, the standard of Trifocal lenses can vary, some practices still use older generation lenses that offer good near and long distance eyesight, but the middle vision can sometimes be questionable. Always choose a surgeon that is committed to using the latest lens technology to ensure you get the best possible results.


The Effects of Cataracts

In the UK, cataracts affect more than 2.5 million people over the age of 65 and it is the most common cause of blindness in the world. Ageing is the main culprit, cataracts grow as a result of our eye’s natural lens thickening and hardening. Cataracts is a progressive disease and if ignored your sight will continue to diminish until you are blind.

Most sufferers have some of the following symptoms:

  •         Blurry vision.
  •         Cloudy vision.
  •         Halos around lights.
  •         Reduction of colour intensity.
  •         Yellow tinting of images.

The longer the condition is left untreated, the higher the risk of falls and depression.

What are the benefits of having the procedure privately?

There are numerous benefits to considering having your cataract procedure in a specialist clinic:

  •         A consultation can be carried out within days (dependent on whether you wear contact lenses and if so which type).
  •         The operation can be carried out in the weeks of your consultation.
  •         You can have treatment once the cataracts is diagnosed.
  •         Your vision does not need to deteriorate whilst the cataract matures as is standard practice in the NHS.
  •         There are more types of artificial lenses available (Multifocal and Trifocal) when compared to the NHS’s sole use of Monofocal artificial lenses.
  •         Private clinics often invest more in the latest technology and equipment to provide patients with better results.
  •         The private sector often attracts experienced world-class surgeons that the NHS cannot.
  •         Some clinics offer flexible options for self-pay patients and there are some clinics that also treat patients with private health insurance.

At AVC, we pride ourselves on being one of the leading private cataract clinics in the country. Not only do we have an elite world renowned surgical team and use the best technology in the country, but we offer flexible finance plans (interest free and interest bearing) and have a preferred partner status with the most well-known insurance companies in the UK.

What’s wrong with the NHS?

Insufficient funding and the demands of a growing population puts NHS

under such pressure that cuts will continue to have to be made. This has been a concern for several years, with people even losing their sight because of long delays. Part of the reason for this is that the NHS requires cataracts to be in an advanced stage before they will consider surgery, despite being treatable from the point of diagnosis. This has led to devastating consequences for some patients. A report from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) said that long NHS cataract waiting lists are causing an increase in social isolation, depression, and the risk of falls.


Some NHS Trusts have drafted in private medical companies to treat patients. While this may seem like a good idea, in practice the focus on ‘value for money’ is again hampering surgical outcomes.

In certain cases, substandard medical teams have actually caused more problems. Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust had to terminate the contract of one private company when more than half of patients experienced complications after cataract treatment. A few weeks later, similar issues occurred at the South Devon NHS Foundation Trust.

AVC: THE Leading Independent Cataract Surgery Provider

As an independent clinic we offer all types of artificial lenses including Monofocal, Multifocal and Trifocal, and given we have no affiliation with any companies we provide a range of the lenses of each type from the country’s top manufacturers.

private cataract surgery

We have years of experience in vision correction surgery and in the implantation of all types of intraocular lenses. We are the leading providers of these revolutionary Trifocal lenses. These next generation multifocal lenses offer a better quality of vision given the transmittance of light through the lens is very efficient, which helps to improve middle vision with minimal glare in the evening.

Trifocal lenses enable our patients to be glasses free after surgery without adjustment problems that can be found in other temporary solutions, like bifocals and varifocals. After surgery your brain will adjust and your vision will adapt naturally; the distance vision is the fastest with the effects exhibited within 24 hours of the procedure. However, reading (near) vision will take longer and varies on a case by case basis, and for a number of patients it can take a couple of weeks for the effects become noticeable.

Patients can choose from two lens procedures dependent on whether they have already had Monofocal Cataract surgery:

  1. Cataract surgery: This is available with a range of lenses, including Trifocals which will free you from your dependency on glasses and contact lenses.
  2. Piggyback Trifocal Lenses: This procedure is ideal lens for patients who have already had Monofocal cataract surgery with the NHS and want to free themselves of their remaining prescription(s) and glasses. This operation also treats people with highly complex prescriptions, like those exhibited in sufferers of corneal diseases like Keratoconus.

Interested in Cataract Treatment?

If you have a cataract don’t delay and don’t compromise, treatment is available immediately and if you would like to find out more about your lens options contact our friendly team on 0800 652 4878. You can also request your free information pack or book your consultation to find out your suitability.

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