Blog Hero

Can You Get Eye Surgery If You Have Astigmatism?

Contact Us
A woman lying under operating equipment, waiting for her eye surgery at an eye care centre in the presence of her eye doctor.

Tired of having blurry vision? Do you dislike wearing glasses? You’re not alone! Patients with astigmatism commonly wonder if they can correct their vision with eye surgery, eliminating the need for glasses.

Astigmatism, a common vision condition that causes blurred vision, affects many people to some degree. It most commonly occurs when the cornea is irregularly shaped. Despite its frightening name, astigmatism is not an eye disease; rather, it’s a refractive error similar to nearsightedness and farsightedness.

Fortunately, even if you have some astigmatism, you can get eye surgery to correct your vision. Your options include Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL) Surgery, Laser Vision Correction and Refractive Lens Exchange.  Each surgery tackles astigmatism in different ways and it depends how much astigmatism you have to qualify.

What Is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism happens when your cornea or lens has an irregular shape, or a curve or bend in its shape.  This shape change could be oval rather than round, causing focusing issues on your retina.  It’s extremely common, affecting more than 30% of the population.  Minimal astigmatism does not need to be treated and is normal.  

Because your eyes can’t focus light effectively when you have astigmatism, objects in your line of sight may be blurry.

If you experience the following signs, you may have astigmatism:

  • Blurry vision that can worsen at night
  • Needing to squint to see
  • Low quality vision, despite doing well on eye chart testing

Astigmatism doesn’t disappear on its own, and vision can deteriorate over time. It’s strongly advised to seek treatment as soon as your vision becomes noticeably impaired.  Mild, moderate to severe astigmatism all happen due to different causes. A comprehensive eye evaluation from a cornea specialist is helpful to determine the cause and possible treatments.

A close-up photo of the implantable Collamer lens ICL for treating astigmatism.

Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL) Surgery

Implantable Collamer Lenses (ICL) are microscopically thin, soft lenses that are implanted in the eye to correct severe nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism permanently.

ICL implantation necessitates surgery where a surgeon inserts the lens between the natural lens of the eye and the coloured iris. The lens works with the eye’s natural lens to bend light on the retina, resulting in clearer vision.

Many adults with stable refractive errors can benefit from ICLs, particularly if they’re not LASIK candidates

Advantages of an ICL

ICLs have the following benefits:

  • Better vision quality – Sharper and clearer vision correction, with little to no halos or glare, and night driving is also improved.
  • Immediate improvement in vision at all distances- depending on your age at the time of surgery
  • Short recovery time – Recovery is usually smooth and quick. Patients typically feel only minor discomfort.
  • Permanent but removable – An ICL can permanently correct your vision and can be removed and/or replaced if necessary.
  • Makes life easier – There is no need for daily maintenance, as with traditional contact lenses.
  • A LASIK and PRK alternative – Patients with thin corneas or prescriptions that are too high for LASIK can still live glasses-free lives.
  • Future treatment adaptability – If your vision changes significantly or if you have to have another procedure at any time, the lens can be removed and replaced.
  • Less likely to cause dry eyes, which is beneficial for patients who suffer from chronic dry eyes.

Process of ICL Surgery

  • Your eyes will be numbed with drops before ICL surgery. During the procedure, your ophthalmologist will use a lid speculum to keep your eyes open.
  • A small incision in the eye is made with a blade. Through that incision, your ophthalmologist inserts a lens designed to correct your vision and positions the ICL between your lens and the iris. There’s no need for sutures or stitches.
  • Following the procedure, your ophthalmologist will provide you with medications to aid healing and prevent infection, as well as an eye shield to prevent you from rubbing your eyes while sleeping.
  • Your eye care team will schedule follow-up appointments to monitor your recovery.

Refractive Lens Exchange

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is an intraocular (inside the eye) procedure similar to cataract surgery but without the presence of a cataract. Refractive Lens Exchange, as opposed to laser vision correction, which reshapes the cornea, alters the focusing power of the eye by replacing the natural lens.

To provide good distance vision, good reading vision, or both, the natural lens is replaced with a thin intraocular lens (IOL). Four types of IOLs are available to replace your natural lens depending on your vision needs and the health of your eyes. They are as follows:

  • Monofocal fixed-focus IOLs
  • Toric IOLs
  • Multifocal IOLs
  • Extended Vision IOLs

Advantages of RLE

  • Because the natural lens is removed during RLE surgery, the risk of developing cataracts is eliminated.  Cataract surgery is no longer needed in the future.
  • The risk of vision deterioration over time is low
  • The lens implant is intended to last your entire life.

Process of RLE Surgery

  • An anesthetist will administer a light sedative before the RLE procedure to ensure that you are relaxed, calm, and comfortable. To numb your eye, anesthetic eye drops will be used.
  • To reach the lens, your eye doctor will make a very small opening in the eye and an ultrasound probe is used to break up and remove the natural lens from the eye.
  • After the natural lens fragments are removed, a replacement Intraocular Lens (IOL) is inserted into the eye. The IOLs are flexible and folded to fit through the narrow opening. They unfold into position once inside the eye.

Corrective Surgery at Vector Eye Centre

If you’re looking for corrective surgery for your astigmatism, ICL or RLE are great options to look into further. Contact our team if you have any questions about which surgery will be right for you.

Written by Dr. Jamie Bhamra

Dr. Jamie Bhamra is an ophthalmologist with advanced training in cataract and corneal surgery, including refractive surgery, corneal cross-linking, external disease, ocular surface disease, and dry eye disease. He practices comprehensive ophthalmology in Calgary, Alberta.
instagram facebook facebook2 pinterest twitter google-plus google linkedin2 yelp youtube phone location calendar share2 link star-full star-half star star-half chevron-right chevron-left chevron-down chevron-up envelope fax