They’re very happy with the results.” How well the lenses work depends in part on how healthy the eye is, said Dr. Brown, assistant professor of ophthalmology at The Methodist Hospital, Weill College of Medicine in Houston, where he specializes in retinal surgery.

“Since many multifocal lenses cut down on the amount of light reaching the retina, they aren’t recommended for people with macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy, which already make it difficult to see in low light,” Dr. “People with a family history of macular degeneration or diabetes should be informed that should they develop macular disease, they may have more difficulties functioning with multifocal lenses.” Like presbyopia, retinal problems become more common with age, limiting the number of candidates for multifocal lenses.

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Like bum knees and crow’s feet, cataracts are the price we pay for getting older.

Cataracts form when the normally transparent lens of the eye turns cloudy.

Multifocal lenses, designed to focus both up close and at a distance, are a newer option.

They are particularly appealing because by the time people develop cataracts, usually starting in their 60s, most suffer from presbyopia and require reading glasses.

The most common are monofocal lenses, which focus vision at a single distance, the way a pair of standard glasses does.

Before surgery, ophthalmologists test the eyes to choose the best prescription for the artificial lens, based on whether patients are nearsighted or farsighted or have normal vision.

Presbyopia occurs when the body’s natural lens stiffens with age and eye muscles can no longer focus it for close vision.

Techniques to insert the new lenses have also been refined.

One design presents two images to the retina, one focused close and the other at a distance.

The brain then chooses which one to “see.” The second design, called an accommodating lens, incorporates a kind of hinge that allows eye muscles to focus the lens either near or far.

Marian Macsai, professor and vice chairman of the department of ophthalmology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.