Astigmatism is a refractive error like nearsightedness and farsightedness that causes blurry vision at all focal points. Our eye surgeons and cataract surgery experts at Clarity Eye Group in Huntington Beach use a special technique to correct astigmatism during cataract surgery. Limbal relaxing incisions (LRIs) on either side of the cornea can improve mild to moderate astigmatism.

How Does Astigmatism Affect Vision?

Your eyesight relies on several structures to transform light into clear, crisp images. The clear dome at the front of the eye (cornea) works with the internal lens to focus light rays onto the light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye (retina). Astigmatism is a refractive error caused by a misshapen cornea where the eye is shaped more oblong like a football rather than round like a baseball. The cornea bulges in the middle and tapers on the sides. That abnormal shape causes light rays to come to a point in front of and beyond the retina, leading to blurry vision at all distances.

Astigmatism is a common eye concern that affects most people. You might be born with astigmatism or develop the refractive error after a traumatic eye injury or previous eye surgery. Mild astigmatism may not cause noticeable vision concerns, but moderate to severe astigmatism needs correction with prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses, toric intraocular lens implants (IOL), laser vision correction, or limbal relaxing incisions.

How Do Limbal Relaxing Incisions Work?

Limbal relaxing incisions are also called corneal relaxing incisions and may be made during or after cataract surgery for astigmatism correction. The surgical technique creates partial thickness incisions in both outer edges of the cornea to flex and reshape the cornea. Our eye doctors may prefer to do LRIs at the start of cataract surgery when the eye is firmer.

The incisions are made using a special scalpel with a preset depth. Asymmetrical regular astigmatism may have incisions of different lengths, and more severe cases of astigmatism may require additional incisions.

Clarity Eye Group uses the Catalys® Precision Laser System for cataract surgery, featuring a femtosecond laser. Our eye surgeons may use femtosecond technology to create LRIs during cataract surgery.

Do I Qualify for Astigmatism Correction During Cataract Surgery?

Patients with a long history of astigmatism can achieve better vision without corrective eyewear with LRIs. Our eye doctors can determine if limbal relaxing incisions are a good fit for your vision needs during a comprehensive eye exam, with a close examination of the peripheral (side) cornea and testing to measure and confirm the degree of astigmatism.

Corneal topography may be used to map the corneal surface to confirm and classify your astigmatism as symmetric, asymmetric, regular, or irregular.

Limbal relaxing incisions effectively treat mild astigmatism of less than 1.0 diopters (D). Moderate astigmatism, ranging from 1.0D to 3.0D, can be corrected with LRIs or a toric IOL. Astigmatism higher than 3.0D typically requires a combination approach with LRIs and toric IOLs.

Most patients experience excellent results with limbal relaxing incisions and enjoy better, clearer vision with astigmatism correction and cataract removal.

Schedule a comprehensive eye exam at Clarity Eye Group to see if astigmatism correction is right for your needs. Contact our experienced ophthalmologists in Huntington Beach, California, at (714) 842-0651.