When you have astigmatism, your cornea is shaped almost like a football; eyes without this condition have a much rounder shape. Astigmatic Keratotomy (AK) and the very similar Limbal Relaxing Incision (LRI) are procedures that help to reduce astigmatism.
Partial thickness incisions are made in the peripheral cornea to relax the condition; essentially the football shaped corneas are slightly deflated to reach the rounder shape that will help you see better. If you have mild astigmatism, your eyes may reach normal vision after the astigmatic keratotomy procedure, leaving you free of glasses and contact lenses. However, with a more severe astigmatism it is unlikely that the procedure will perfectly correct your vision by itself. There is a solution to make your vision even better: when AK or LRI are used together with multifocal and accommodating IOLs, your astigmatism can be reduced even further. Both procedures can be performed at the same time, minimizing your time in the chair at our office. AK by itself takes a total of 10 minutes to do both eyes, and is done under topical anesthesia. You will be completely comfortable but won’t have to worry about the groggy effects of being completely under. After the surgery you will likely be extremely sensitive to light for a few hours or feel like you have something stuck in your eye, but this is completely normal and will subside on its own. Your surgeon will prescribe you eye drops so that your eyes heal comfortably and without risk of infection. You may be able to tell that your astigmatism has reduced slightly the day after surgery, but your results won’t reach their full potential for a few weeks. What happens next depends on the severity of your astigmatism before your AK procedure; if you had severe astigmatism your vision will still not be perfect, so you may want to consider LASIK surgery options at this point. The Astigmatic Keratotomy and Limbal Relaxing Incision procedures are excellent first steps towards perfecting your vision, and may even result in your independence from outside lenses.