Patients afflicted with both cataracts and astigmatisms can resolve 2 separate problems at one time with the a toric intraocular lens (IOL)implant that may liberate patients from eyeglasses and contact lenses. In the past, people with both a cataract and astigmatism would still emerge from an operation with blurred vision in the distance because doctors would repair the cataract but leave the astigmatism unresolved. One of the body’s physical signs of aging, a cataract, is the when the eye’s natural lens hardens and become cloudy, over time. The lens loses its ability to focus natural light and produce sharp images. Astigmatism usually occurs when the front surface of the eye, or cornea, is shaped more like a football than a basketball. Since the Federal Food and Drug Administration first approved toric IOLs in 1998, both problems can be corrected at the same time with a single permanent replacement lens. The ideal candidate for a toric IOL is a patient with both conditions who desirous of reducing his or her need for glasses in order to see clearly at a distance. The procedure itself requires one additional step more than the typical cataract correction procedure, as the doctor positions the foldable toric intraocular lens, which is made of silicone or acrylic, at the precise place in order to best correct the astigmatism resulting from the misshapen cornea. The ophthalmologist uses corneal topography, laser measurements of the length of the eye, measurements of the distance between the cornea and lens, measurements of the diameter of the cornea, and measurements of the curvature of the cornea to help assess the proper lens strength and placement to best restore focus to the eye. In the past, some doctors were slow to fully embrace the toric IOLs, but that is changing. Modern advancements have consistently led to predictable and precise results. In the future, real-time photographic and sophisticated measurements of refractive power of the eye may be used to further improve proper toric IOL placement and alignment.
There is little additional risk or recovery time for the patient having both problems addressed with a toric IOL as compared to solely fixing the cataract and leaving the astigmatism untreated.
Post-op care is virtually the same with a toric iol implant or a iol that does not correct for astigmatism. Most patients notice a dramatic improvement in their vision within days of having surgery.