Astigmatism is the result of having a corneal surface that is not regular in shape and effects more than 50% of the population. The eye is unable to focus clearly at any distance because of this irregular focusing surface. Individuals with no astigmatism have corneas that are shaped like basketballs while individuals with astigmatism have corneas that are shaped more like footballs. There are a number of possible types of astigmatic corneas, which is why your eyes must be examined in order to determine the degree and type of astigmatism. People with astigmatism may also be myopic or hyperopic.
In patients who have astigmatism, their corneas are shaped more like a cone than a sphere, and this irregular shape causes the light rays to not properly focus on the retina, or back portion of the eye. Because these light rays are skewed, people with astigmatism need prescription glasses to correct this condition.
In the past, patients undergoing cataract surgery who had pre-existing astigmatism prior to the procedure had no way of having it surgically corrected. If astigmatism is left uncorrected, the patient typically will require glasses for both distance and near vision post-operatively.
Fortunately, Toric intraocular lenses (IOLs) are now available that can permanently correct astigmatism. Called Toric IOLs, these lenses are designed with a specific shape that counterbalances the irregularity in the corneal shape that is the cause of astigmatism. Thanks to their unique design, Toric IOLs are engineered to refocus light rays as they pass through the cornea and the lens and properly focus the light on the retina. The result is a permanent correction of your astigmatism, along with restoration of your distance vision, much like a traditional IOL but with a significant decrease in dependency on glasses.
For patients who elect this option prior to surgery, you will undergo a full vision analysis at Coastal Eye Care and Surgery Center. Dr. Piazza or Dr. Rudloe will then customize a treatment option that includes selection and implantation of a Toric IOL engineered to provide you with superior distance vision. The goal of astigmatic-correcting procedures is eliminate or decrease your dependence on distance glasses providing you with more visual freedom. The vast majority of patients who choose this option do not need to wear glasses for most normal activities, but will need to wear glasses for near viewing tasks such as reading and possibly the computer.
To learn more or schedule an appointment, please call Coastal Eye Care in Maine at 207-667-6300.