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Multifocal intraocular lenses (IOLs) are growing in popularity among patients and surgeons, and opened the way to refractive lens exchange. Still they are not used routinely in cataract surgery, for reasons probably connected to the frequently observed reduction in contrast sensitivity. Recent papers with clinical study outcomes can help in understanding the advantages and the limits of multifocal IOLs.Emerging from every published study, both refractive and diffractive multifocal IOLs usually provide good near visual acuity with distance correction. As many multifocal IOLs are distance-dominant, near vision can be improved by correcting for near the distance focus. The near contrast sensitivity thus obtained is similar to that of monofocal IOLs. Multifocal IOLs have been employed with success in complicated cataract surgery and in trauma cases, with the same outcome as in normal cataract cases. Presbyopic lens exchange remains controversial, with a high success rate in original ametropic eyes, but limited success in original emmetropic eyes. Secondary procedures to improve the refractive outcome are usually of little efficacy in improving patient satisfaction. A new anterior chamber phakic multifocal IOL has been designed to correct presbyopia and small refractive errors. The first clinical results indicate high patient satisfaction, with 7.3% explantation rate.Multifocal IOLs can be more widely used after cataract surgery, but should be used with caution in almost emmetropic eyes with little or no cataract. Refractive lens exchange with multifocal IOL is especially worthwhile in hyperopic eyes. The new phakic multifocal IOL adds the concept of reversibility to presbyopic lens exchange.