Cataracts and astigmatism are common ophthalmologic issues that affect millions of Americans.
Cataract surgery and lens implantation can take care of the cloudiness or glare problems caused by cataracts. At the same time, astigmatism can also be corrected for many people. Astigmatism occurs when the cornea of the eye becomes shaped like an oblong football instead of a rounded basketball. This causes blurring at distances, or near-sightedness (myopia). Depending on the exact shape of the astigmatism, it can also cause farsightedness (hyperopia) in some people.
Today’s advances in medical technology allow ophthalmologic surgeons to correct both cataracts and astigmatism at once in many cases. In fact, after a successful surgery, you may be able to eliminate the need for corrective eyeglasses altogether.
During a typical cataract correction procedure, a surgeon cuts a small incision in the lens of the eye to remove the affected lens. The surgeon will then implant a plastic lens called an IOL, or intraocular lens. On the other hand, the procedure used to correct astigmatism is known as LRI, or Limbal Relaxing incisions. During LRI surgery, your surgeon will place small, peripheral incisions in the cornea to “relax” the cornea.
The combination of cataract and LRI surgery allows patients to “kill two birds with one stone.” Both vision issues can be addressed at once and healing time is essentially the same as it would be for traditional lens implantation surgery (two to six weeks for full recovery, although normal activities can be resumed as soon as the next day with doctor’s approval).
Another option for correcting both issues at one time is the implantation of astigmatism-correcting lenses called “toric” intra-ocular lens implants (IOLs). These implants are custom made and calibrated for your specific astigmatism. They are a better option for some patients, since IRL surgery can leave your cornea more susceptible to trauma if you suffer from an eye injury. However, these are considered premium IOLs and they are not typically covered by private health insurance plans or Medicare. Some people actually opt to have both toric IOL and IRL procedures at once to correct extreme vision problems.
In some cases, astigmatism develops after cataract surgery has been performed. During the healing process, your cornea may change shape slightly, causing astigmatism. This can be corrected with either LASIK or PRK corrective eye surgery. Your cataract surgeon should also be well versed in the world of LASIK procedures and should be able to complete this procedure for you as well.
Every cataract and astigmatism case is different, and so it’s important to find a cataract surgeon in New Jersey or New York who is going to listen to your needs and examine your eyes thoroughly before recommending any surgical options. At the 5th Avenue Eye Center, Dr. Ilan Cohen is our expert cataract surgeon. Our offices are equipped with the very latest in medical machinery and technology and our staff is well educated as to all of the latest techniques.
We always welcome your calls at (212) 764-2020 or (866) 731-3937!