Astigmatism is extremely common both before and after cataract surgery. In fact, at the Benjamin Eye Institute in Los Angeles, we’ve found that the majority of people who require cataract surgery also suffer from astigmatism that causes noticeable changes in their vision.
In the past, intraocular lenses were unable to correct this condition. Instead, eye surgeons were required to perform limbal relaxing incisions (LRI), which involves making small incisions along the cornea. This allows the cornea to relax into a rounder shape, which improves the astigmatism. Though it is still performed to this day for some patients, the LRI procedure has its limitations. It’s difficult to predict the results, and in many cases the surgery cannot fully correct the astigmatism.
Conversely, toric premium IOLs offer a safe and highly effective alternative to the LRI procedure – one that is capable of producing predictable outcomes.
What to expect during the procedure
Cataracts form during the natural aging process and cloud your eyesight. Astigmatism develops when your eye features an abnormal curve, resulting in blurry vision. Dr. Benjamin and his team to correct both of these conditions in a single procedure.
Prior to the surgery, Dr. Benjamin and his team will take a number of precise measurements, allowing them to select the toric IOL power and implant orientation that will most successfully correct your astigmatism. On the morning of your procedure, you will need to avoid eating for at least six hours. To begin the operation, Dr. Benjamin will numb your eye with drops or an injection. He may also administer medication to help you relax. Although you will be awake during surgery and able to see light and movement, you will not be able to see what the doctor is doing to your eyes.
Once the numbing medication has taken effect, he will make tiny incisions in your eye, near the edge of the cornea. He will then break up the lens to remove the cataract, before implanting your new toric device. These premium IOLs feature markings along the edges of the lens, which allow the surgeon to visualize the orientation of the astigmatism correction. As such, after implanting the toric IOL, your surgeon will rotate the lens until its properly aligned.
After spending about 30 minutes in the recovery room at our Los Angeles facility, you should be able to return home to begin the healing process. During the first few days, you should avoid rubbing the area and getting soap or water directly in your eyes. In addition, you will need to make a follow-up appointment at the Benjamin Eye Institute within a couple of days, so that Dr. Benjamin can examine your new lens and monitor your progress.
During traditional cataract surgery, the surgeon implants a monofocal artificial lens, commonly called an intraocular lens (IOL. However, if you have astigmatism, you may still experience blurred vison, because a standard IOL cannot correct this condition. In January 2007, Medicare approved a new monofocal lens called the AcrySof Toric IOL for patients with cataracts and astigmatism. This lens is highly effective in correcting both conditions and delivering renewed vision.
AcrySof Toric IOLs deliver a wide range of benefits when compared to traditional implantable intraocular lens solutions. Some of the most important advantages include:
- The ability to correct astigmatism. The AcrySof lens features a unique design that counteracts the curvature of astigmatism, drastically improving clarity and reducing optical blurring for our patients.
- Enhanced distance vision. AcrySof lenses are very effective in improving distance vision and enabling our patients to see faraway objects clearly once again.
- Increased color perception. Once AcrySof lenses are implanted, many of our patients at the Benjamin Eye Institute experience better, richer and more vibrant color perception, allowing them to see the world with brand new eyes.
In addition, these premium IOLs are very rarely associated with glare or halos around lights, so many of our patients are able to resume night driving after their procedure.
How the lenses work
The AcrySof toric IOL is a foldable, single piece lens that is implanted during cataract surgery to replace the clouded natural lens. Its unique design makes it possible to reduce or eliminate astigmatism and significantly improve uncorrected distance vision. AcrySof toric lenses provide quality distance vision, independent of eyeglasses and contact lenses. Since the AcrySof toric IOL is a monofocal lens, reading glasses will still be necessary. However, for most patients, distance vision is greatly improved with these devices.