Does Cataract Surgery Correct Astigmatism?
If you have cataracts and are interested in Cataract Surgery to get rid of them, you may be wondering what other implications the procedure could have on your vision. For example, you may have heard of “premium” intraocular lenses and that they can improve existing refractive errors. This, in turn, may lead you to ask: Does Cataract Surgery correct astigmatism?
What is Cataract Surgery?
As we age, we all begin to notice changes in our bodies, but perhaps the most noticeable changes affect our eyes. Not only do we begin to rely upon reading glasses, but eventually, we may also have another problem to deal with – cataracts.
The development of cataracts is a completely natural part of the eye’s ageing process. Nonetheless, as we begin to notice the cataract clouding our lens and vision, it can be easy to panic. But don’t worry – there is a perfectly straightforward solution: Cataract Surgery.
Cataract Surgery works by removing the natural clouded lens from the eye and replacing it with an artificial one. These artificial lenses are known as intraocular lenses or IOLs.
Intraocular Lenses and Refractive Errors
There are a variety of IOLs available today, each designed for a specific purpose. For example, IOLs can be implanted into the eye to correct common refractive errors, including hyperopia (long-sightedness), myopia (short-sightedness), and astigmatism.
Premium IOLs work by re-focusing light onto the retina, allowing clear images to be sent to the brain. In this way, IOLs work in much the same way as external contact lenses, the only difference being that they are essentially built into the eye.
At private clinics, these premium IOLs can be used to correct long-sightedness, short-sightedness, and astigmatism at the same time as treating cataracts. For example, at London Vision Clinic, we offer the full range of commercially available premium IOLs, ensuring the very best outcomes for every patient.
In contrast, Cataract Surgery through the NHS offers only one kind of IOL: a monofocal lens. This means that the lens has a single point of focus. As such, monofocal lenses cannot correct refractive errors, so glasses and contact lenses will still be needed following Cataract Surgery.
This is one of the main reasons that many patients opt to have Cataract Surgery at a private clinic as opposed to through the NHS.
Cataract Surgery and Astigmatism
Astigmatism is a common refractive error that occurs with an abnormally shaped eye. This means that the eye is not perfectly round. For example, a non-astigmatic eye is round, like a football; in contrast, an astigmatic eye is slightly flattened, like a rugby ball.
This irregular shape means that light reflected into the eye does not hit the retina correctly, causing blurred vision.
The most common ways to correct astigmatism are with external visual aids like glasses and contact lenses, or with Laser Eye Surgery. However, astigmatism can also be corrected with IOLs in Clear Lens Exchange or ICL Surgery. However, in Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL) Surgery, the IOL is implanted in front of the eye’s natural lens rather than completely replacing it.
In addition to being used in Cataract Surgery, IOLs can also be considered an alternative treatment for Laser Eye Surgery. This is usually offered when a patient is unsuitable for Laser Eye Surgery; for example, if their prescription is too high.
Correcting Astigmatism with a Toric IOL
If you have astigmatism and are in need of Cataract Surgery, you’ll be relieved to hear that you can have both issues fixed at the same time!
When correcting astigmatism during cataract surgery, a premium IOL called a toric lens is used to replace the natural lens. This type of lens is shaped in a way that changes the way light is reflected into the eye, directing it toward the retina more effectively.
Just like exterior toric contact lenses, toric IOLs are available in different prescriptions to correct varying levels of astigmatism.
If you would like to learn more about how your refractive error could be corrected during cataract surgery, get in touch with one of our friendly clinic coordinators. Alternatively, Book a Consultation today.