Cataract Surgery and Astigmatism
A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens of the eye. This happens to all of us as we age. Cataracts can be caused by overexposure to UV light like sunlight, medications, smoking, and they can also be congenital. As a cataract becomes worse, patients experience glare with oncoming headlights while driving at night, glare with sunlight and blurred vision. Cataract surgery should only be considered when a cataract is severe enough to negatively impact quality of life. SightMD cataract experts use the latest techniques including cataract surgery that takes only a few minutes without the use of stitches, needles around the eyes or even an eye patch following surgery. After the cataract or cloudy lens is removed, a new plastic intraocular lens implant is used to restore vision. Each patient gets an implant lens that gives them the best possible vision. Our patients remain in their own clothes and return home the very same day. There is usually little to no discomfort and visual recovery is fast. We are a Crystalens® Cataract Surgery National Center of Excellence.
Astigmatism describes visual blur caused by a cornea that is oblong instead of spherical. A good analogy is that an eye with astigmatism is football shaped instead of basketball shaped. Astigmatism is present in many people as a natural part of their eyeglass prescription. Patients that are nearsighted and farsighted can also have astigmatism. Astigmatism causes blurred vision at near and far, but is easily corrected by glasses or contact lenses. When a patient without astigmatism has cataract surgery, the standard implant lenses result in excellent distance vision. Patients with astigmatism will still need glasses for far and near after cataract surgery if a standard lens is used because standard lenses do not correct astigmatism.
Surgical Options for Astigmatism in Cataract Surgery
There are currently three good choices to reduce or eliminate astigmatism in cataract surgery, leaving a patient with clearer vision without glasses or contact lenses. When we correct astigmatism in the setting of cataract surgery, patients are generally ecstatic with the improvement in vision.
Limbal Relaxing Incisions
At the time of cataract surgery, our board certified cataract experts can perform limbal relaxing incisions that correct a moderate amount of astigmatism. We use computer programs to attempt precision corrections of smaller amounts of astigmatism. At the time of surgery, our eye doctors will simply make small relaxing incisions in the cornea to reduce or eliminate astigmatism. Limbal relaxing incisions work well, but if patients have larger degrees of astigmatism, limbal relaxing incisions are not powerful enough.
TORIC® Intraocular Implant
For patients with higher amounts of astigmatism, a TORIC® Intraocular Lens can precisely reduce astigmatism. A Toric implant is a premium implant that corrects astigmatism. Instead of correcting astigmatism in the corneal plane like limbal relaxing incisions, these specialty lens implants correct astigmatism at the lens plane. Typically patients have to pay extra for this implant, but in our experience, these patients tend to be highly satisfied with the results. We also offer zero percent financing for two years to make payment less of a burden.
After cataract surgery, our eye surgeons can perform LASIK to reduce or eliminate astigmatism. At times, a limbal relaxing incision or a TORIC® implant can leave a small amount of residual astigmatism. We typically eliminate the residual astigmatism with laser vision correction or LASIK. Patients feel comfortable that if they are left with a small amount of astigmatism, there is a safe, precise and effective method to finish the job. If a patient elects to have a standard intraocular lens and later decides that astigmatism reduction is something that they desire, LASIK is then used to eliminate it. We perform only the best in LASIK, iLASIK which is bladeless custom LASIK. Our LASIK platform uses a custom map of each patient’s unique visual system for the best results possible.
Again, if you have cataracts and astigmatism, there is an answer for you. We have three unique techniques to eliminate or reduce astigmatism. All have been tested for many years and the results are impressive.