Medical Breakthrough: Astigmatism Implant

Monday, August 23rd 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Each year, there are more than 1.5 million cataract operations in the United States. Yet, a third of those patients will still have to wear eyeglasses because of an added condition: astigmatism. It happens when the eye is abnormally shaped and cannot focus. However, a new implantable lens now allows patients to toss away their glasses for good.

After a hard day of work at his liquor store, Pete Kresky, a cataract patient, enjoys a leisurely drive. However, when his eyesight began slipping away, he unwittingly became a traffic hazard. Kresky says, " I never realized that I couldn't see street signs and stop signs and changing lights in the different times of the day."

Kresky had developed cataracts. His eyes became clouded. "Special colors, blades of grass, leaves on trees - what you do is see the tree. You don't really see the detail," he says.
To help him focus, the lens in his eye would have to be removed and replaced with an artificial one, but an eye exam revealed that Kresky also had astigmatism.

Harry Grabow, M.D., ophthalmologist at the Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Florida, explains, "Astigmatism means that the front part of the eyeball is not shaped round or spherical like a basketball but is shaped oval like a football." That abnormal shape causes double vision. Artificial lens implants of the past only corrected nearsightedness and farsightedness. Now, a new type of lens implant can clear up astigmatism, too. Dr. Grabow says, "Before we had this implant that specifically corrects the astigmatism, the patient had to wear eyeglasses because of the astigmatism."

In the procedure, drops are used to numb the eye. A tiny incision is made, and the cataract is removed. The lens is then implanted. For Kresky, the results are crystal clear. He says, "I can see everything that goes on. I'm completely aware and on top of my game."

The implant procedure takes less than 10 minutes, requires no stitches and the patient can see clearly within 24 hours. It costs $3,000 to $4,000 per eye and is covered by most insurance plans and Medicare.

For more information, contact:
Debbis Casto
Sarasota Memorial Hospital
1700 Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, Florida 34239-3555
(941) 917-7777 (24 hr. nurse hotline)