What is Astigmatism? Astigmatism is a term which describes the curve of a cornea that is steeper in one direction than it is 90 degrees away. Ok. So instead of having an equal curve in all directions, like a soccer or basketball (round), it’s shaped more like a football (oval). This causes light coming in to the eye to bend differently leading to blurred vision. There are many types of corrections for astigmatism. For laser correction, these types of treatments include LASIK and PRK which have been available for almost 20 years. I had my LASIK treatment about 14 years ago, with astigmatism correction available even back then! It can treat Astigmatism, nearsightedness, farsightedness and the combination of those. I see patients every week who have benefitted from laser vision correction, including for astigmatism. LASIK is a two-step procedure where a thin cap of tissue like a flap is created on the cornea. It is gently lifted so the main tissue of the cornea can then be reshaped using a laser. The flap is placed back and stays without the need for stitches. The new corneal shape or curve created by LASIK then focuses the light inside the eye at the proper distance allowing you to see without needing contacts or glasses. It is typically a 15 minute procedure, with about 7-20 seconds of laser time. Most people are able to drive and work the next day! No doubt you know someone who has had the procedure done, or maybe even you have joined the millions that did it!
LASIK has many nuances that require careful attention during an evaluation to see if you are a candidate. It is not possible to determine who is a candidate or not just because you have been told you have astigmatism, or nearsightedness or farsightedness. I very often hear from people that they have been told they can’t get LASIK because they have astigmatism. Consideration for LASIK requires an evaluation of your needs and goals, an exam that includes among other things your prescription, curvature maps, corneal thickness, presence of lid or corneal disease, cataract, glaucoma, dryness, or retinal disease. Fortunately, we do many types of treatments that can address these issues. Because we perform different procedures according to individual exam findings, we can tailor each person’s needs to the best type of procedure for them.