When refractive laser eye surgery was first becoming popular, the procedure was unfortunately limited to only a couple types of vision problems, namely nearsightedness (myopia) and farsightedness (hyperopia). Therefore, doctors told patients that astigmatism was not similarly treatable. Although this may have been true at one point, advances in technology have since allowed patients with astigmatism to further enhance their natural vision through LASIK surgery. Since most patients with other refractive errors tend to have at least some degree of astigmatism as well, this further shows the increased effectiveness of LASIK and its ability to improve one’s vision.
If you have been diagnosed with astigmatism, there is a good chance that LASIK surgery can help you see clearly without the need for corrective lenses. Please refer to the below information on astigmatism and LASIK, as provided by our Chicago eye care center.
What Is Astigmatism?
Astigmatism refers to the irregular shape of one’s cornea, the clear outer layer of tissue that covers the eye and initially refracts light. Ideally, this tissue would be perfectly spherical, thereby focusing light into a single point exactly on the eye’s retina. However, nearly everyone’s cornea is irregular to at least some degree. When this irregularity is significant enough, it creates multiple focal points of light within the eye, blurring vision at multiple distances. For discrepancies plus or minus one diopter, the scale used to measure vision correction, patients are said to have astigmatism. Depending on whether one’s eyesight is stronger for nearby objects or those far away, patients are also usually diagnosed with myopia or hyperopia, respectively.
Treating Astigmatism with LASIK
Nowadays, patients with astigmatism and other refractive errors are often excellent candidates for LASIK surgery. Because astigmatism is caused only by the shape of the cornea, and LASIK surgery directly re-shapes corneal tissue, this treatment is an ideal way to restore one’s natural vision. The exact way in which the laser will re-shape the eye is dependent upon the refractive errors therein:
Myopic astigmatism: Patients with astigmatism who are also nearsighted suffer from an eyeball that is too long or a cornea that is overly curved, resulting in most focal points of light falling short of the retina. LASIK surgery is therefore used to create a smoother cornea with a less rounded surface.Hyperopic astigmatism: Patients with astigmatism who are also farsighted suffer from an eyeball that is too short or a cornea that is not curved enough, resulting in most focal points of light extending past the retina. LASIK surgery is therefore used to create a smoother cornea with a more spherical surface.Mixed astigmatism: Patients with mixed astigmatism suffer from a variety of curvatures in the cornea’s surface, leading to multiple focal points that end before and past the retina. As a result, patients’ vision is blurred at all distances. LASIK corrects these problems simultaneously by creating a more uniform corneal surface with a singular, ideal curvature.
Candidates for LASIK
If you have any of the above-mentioned refractive errors, you can likely benefit from LASIK surgery. Still, patients must consider a variety of factors in order to safely and effectively undergo the procedure. For instance, patients with abnormally large pupils or thin corneas may not be eligible to receive LASIK, as the former may result in more dramatic, long-lasting visual disturbances and the latter prevents surgery from taking place at all. Patients with particularly dry eyes may also want to reconsider LASIK, as surgery tends to worsen this condition.
Moreover, any recent changes in vision will at least prolong your LASIK treatment. In order to accurately correct your vision, the doctor will need your vision to have been stable for at least one year prior. If you have recently required a new prescription for glasses or contact lenses, you will need to wait a while before undergoing LASIK. As always, visit your optometrist for an exam and initial consultation in order to determine if LASIK is currently right for you.
Schedule Your Consultation
LASIK surgery offers improved natural vision that, for many people, is permanent and dramatic. In order to learn more about your personal vision problems and how they may be treated with LASIK or another procedure, contact our office to schedule your first consultation with us.