Living with astigmatism can be a frustrating experience. From constantly adjusting your glasses to struggling with blurry or distorted vision, it can significantly impact your daily life. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to correct astigmatism, including LASIK. In this blog post, we will discuss what astigmatism is, how LASIK can correct it, and explore other surgical and non-surgical options for clear vision without glasses.
What is Astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a common refractive error that occurs when the cornea (the clear front surface of the eye) or lens (inside of the eye) isn’t perfectly spherical. Instead of being spherical like a basketball, the cornea or lens is shaped more like a football, causing light to refract unevenly and create blurry or distorted vision at all distances. Astigmatism can be present at birth or develop over time and often occurs alongside other refractive errors such as nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia).
Astigmatism can be categorized into two types: regular and irregular. Understanding the differences between these two types is crucial for choosing the appropriate treatment method.
Regular astigmatism is the most common form and occurs when the principal meridians of the eye (the steepest and flattest curvatures) are perpendicular to each other, forming a 90-degree angle. In this case, the cornea’s curvature follows a consistent pattern, similar to the surface of a football. Regular astigmatism can be easily corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgeries such as LASIK, PRK, or LASEK.
Irregular astigmatism is less common and occurs when the principal meridians of the eye are not perpendicular to each other, causing an inconsistent curvature pattern on the cornea. Irregular astigmatism can result from corneal scarring, certain eye conditions like keratoconus, trauma or various eye surgery. Correcting irregular astigmatism can be more challenging than correcting regular astigmatism. Eyeglasses may not be sufficient for providing clear vision, and specially designed contact lenses, such as rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses or scleral lenses, may be required. In some cases, surgical interventions like corneal transplant or implantable lenses (ICL) may be necessary to achieve clear vision.
Can LASIK Correct Astigmatism?
LASIK (Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis) is a popular and effective laser eye surgery that corrects various refractive errors, including astigmatism. During the procedure, a surgeon creates a thin flap in the cornea and uses a precise excimer laser to reshape it, correcting the irregular curvature that causes astigmatism. Most patients experience significantly improved vision within 24 hours of the surgery and can enjoy long-lasting clear vision without needing glasses or contact lenses.
What Other Procedures Can Correct Astigmatism?
In addition to LASIK, there are other surgical options available to correct astigmatism, including:
PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy): Similar to LASIK, PRK uses an excimer laser to reshape the cornea. However, instead of creating a flap, the surgeon removes the outer layer of the cornea (epithelium) and allows it to regrow naturally. PRK may be recommended for individuals with thinner corneas or specific corneal irregularities.
ICL (Implantable Collamer Lens): ICL involves implanting a thin, biocompatible lens in the eye to correct astigmatism and other refractive errors. This method does not alter the corneal shape.
What Are the Non-Surgical Methods to Correct Astigmatism?
For those who prefer non-surgical methods or are not suitable candidates for eye surgery, there are other options available to correct astigmatism:
Eyeglasses: Prescription eyeglasses with cylindrical lenses can correct astigmatism and provide clear vision.
Contact Lenses: Soft toric contact lenses, rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses, or hybrid contact lenses can correct astigmatism by providing a smooth, regularly shaped surface over the cornea to improve vision.
Orthokeratology (Ortho-K): Ortho-K is a non-surgical procedure that involves wearing specially designed rigid gas-permeable contact lenses overnight. These lenses temporarily reshape the cornea, allowing for clear vision during the day without needing glasses or contacts. However, the effects of Ortho-K are temporary, and the lenses must be worn consistently to maintain the results.
In conclusion, LASIK can effectively correct astigmatism and provide clear vision without glasses. However, there are also other surgical and non-surgical options available, depending on the individual’s specific needs and the type of astigmatism. It’s essential to consult with an experienced eye care professional to determine the most suitable treatment option for your unique circumstances.