A cataract is a common vision problem that affects millions of Americans. The lens of the eye is made up mostly of water and protein in a specific pattern to allow light to pass through. Aging and a process called oxidation can cause the protein in the lens to clump together and become clouded. The blurry spot is known as a cataract. If a cataract is not removed and the lens replaced with an intraocular lens, the cataract can actually cause blindness.
The solution to a cataract is cataract surgery. The procedure is safe and extremely effective. Sometimes, other vision issues can be corrected during cataract surgery so that the patient only has to undergo anesthesia a single time. One other type of procedure that can sometimes be done in conjunction with cataract surgery is astigmatism correction.
What is Astigmatism and How is it Corrected?
Astigmatism is a refractive error and is caused by an eye that is not completely round. When light enters the eye, it should bend evenly and create a clear image. When someone has astigmatism, light is refracted in one direction more than another because the eye shape is more oblong than round. Everyone has astigmatism to some degree, but certain individuals have severe astigmatism, and this can often be corrected by cataract surgery.
The surgeon can change the shape of the cornea with a tiny incision made in the cornea so that it can become more round. This new shape will match the implanted lens and can significantly improve vision. One other alternative is for the surgeon to use a lens that resembles a football in shape (to match the cornea) but to place it in an orientation which is opposite to that of the cornea’s shape. This placement of the lens “neutralizes” the effect of the misshapen cornea and reduces the symptoms of astigmatism.
Cataract and Astigmatism Surgery
The technique for the cataract removal and astigmatism correction will vary from patient to patient, but usually it is a simple procedure that may even eliminate the need for eyeglasses. Cataract surgery is an outpatient surgery that can take less than 20 minutes, and astigmatism correction adds a few minutes. After about two hours in the surgery center you will rest at home for the rest of the day. Recovery from surgery occurs fairly quickly, but patients are encouraged to wait about a week before resuming normal activites. A few weeks after surgery, a follow-up appointment is necessary to evaluate the new eyeglass prescription, if needed.
If you are interested in cataract surgery with astigmatism correction, talk to your eye doctor or contact one of our physicians in your area. This is a safe and reliable method to correct two vision issues in a single procedure.