There are many conditions that can affect your eyes. Unfortunately, these conditions can sometimes happen at the same time.
Occasionally, however, you have the opportunity to solve more than one problem with only one treatment. Cataracts and astigmatism are two common eye conditions that can be treated at the same time.
Keep reading to learn more about cataract surgery and whether or not it can treat astigmatism!
What Are Cataracts?
Cataracts are a common age-related eye condition that affects vision. The lens inside the eye gradually becomes cloudy due to protein breaking down and clumping together, a process known as opacification.
As cataracts develop, they block light from properly passing through the lens and focusing on the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. This leads to symptoms such as blurred vision, faded colors, glare or halos around lights, and increased sensitivity to light.
In the early stages, vision changes from cataracts may be subtle. The cloudiness starts off small and doesn’t significantly obstruct light transmission.
As cataracts worsen over time, often over a period of years, vision loss becomes more noticeable. Without treatment, advanced cataracts can eventually cause vision loss.
Cataract surgery to remove the cloudy natural lens and replace it with an artificial intraocular lens is the only effective treatment.
What Is Astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a common refractive error that causes blurred vision. Unlike cataracts, which are caused by clouding of the eye’s lens, astigmatism results from an irregularly shaped cornea, which is the clear outer layer at the front of the eye.
With astigmatism, the cornea is more curved in some directions than others. This prevents light from properly focusing on the retina at the back of the eye, resulting in distorted and unfocused vision.
While astigmatism can develop at any age, it is often present from birth. Like other refractive errors such as nearsightedness and farsightedness, the symptoms of astigmatism include fuzzy vision and eye strain or headaches with visual tasks.
However, unlike cataracts, which progressively worsen over time, astigmatism is typically stable or only gradually changing. Astigmatism can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery to reshape the cornea.
For those who require cataract surgery, astigmatism treatment can also be incorporated at the same time through precise placement of the artificial lens implant. Tackling both conditions together may optimize visual outcomes.
What Happens During Cataract Surgery?
Cataract surgery involves removing and replacing the lens of the eye. The lens is a rounded piece of tissue inside the eye, just behind the pupil.
This piece of specialized tissue is also normally transparent and flexible. This allows the lens to move and adjust, changing the focus of the light that passes through it.
Once the lens develops a cataract and the cataract progresses enough to affect your life, you should schedule your cataract surgery. You can track the progress of cataracts with regular visits to the eye doctor.
During the procedure, your eye will be numbed. Your cataract surgeon will then create a small opening in your cornea.
With the cornea open, your cataract surgeon is able to use a small device inside your eye that safely dismantles the lens. The remaining pieces of lens tissue are removed with suction.
Your cataract surgeon replaces the old lens with a new, artificial one, which is called an IOL or intraocular lens. After, the tiny opening in your cornea will heal naturally over time.
What IOL Should I Choose?
IOL selection is very important, especially if you plan to treat astigmatism. Premium IOL options are able to restore vision at near, intermediate, and far distances.
If you have astigmatism, talk to your eye doctor about choosing a toric IOL. Toric IOLs are custom-made and fit to counteract the imbalanced focus that astigmatism causes.
Do you want to learn more about how you can correct your astigmatism during cataract surgery? Schedule a cataract evaluation at Frantz EyeCare in Fort Myers, FL, today!