Can Lasik Eye Surgery Fix Astigmatism?

Posted on November 26, 2017

The simple one word answer to the question Can Lasik Eye Surgery Fix Astigmatism is, YES. This article explains why.

Astigmatism like nearsightedness and farsightedness is merely a refractive error, and not an eye disease. Its name does sound like it’s a major eye health issue, but that’s not true. Like myopia, it is simply a problem in the focusing of the light on the retina, which is the back of the eye. For easy understanding, imagine that the cornea of the eye, which accounts majorly for how the eye focuses light, is shaped like the curved surface of a soccer ball. In myopia, this curve becomes more curved, focusing light in front of the light sensitive retina, while in hypermetropia it becomes more flat, thereby focusing light behind the retina.

In astigmatism, the curvature of the corneal surface becomes like that of an American football, two different curves in two axes. When light enters the eye, it gets focused at multiple points, either in front of the retina or behind it (or both). Because of that, the resulting vision is blurred, and also distorted, to some degree at all distances, near and distance.

This results in symptoms like eye strain and headaches, especially after reading or other prolonged near work, or watching a movie. Correction of astigmatism with glasses requires a cylindrical prescription, and is not different from that of regular spherical glasses for near or farsightedness.

Astigmatism can be corrected by the use of glasses, as well as contact lenses. Regular soft contact lenses can correct mild astigmatism, while mild to moderate astigmatism can be corrected by toric soft lenses. Rigid Gas Permeable or RGP lenses, or hybrid contact lenses which have a rigid central zone and a soft peripheral frill, have to be custom fitted by an expert for higher degrees of astigmatism..

Earlier, when LASIK was introduced, it was thought that it may not correct astigmatism or cylindrical error as well as it corrects the spherical error, and like most urban legends, the myth lingered.

The truth is that LASIK can correct both spherical and cylindrical error as well, because the cornea is modelled on the basis of the corneal surface data that your surgeon feeds into the very sophisticated computer that controls the LASIK machine. It can correct each of the axes to the extent required, with great precision and accuracy.

In fact, the newly available technology of Contoura Vision Topography-Guided Laser Correction is a type of laser vision correction surgery that maps the unique topography of the eyes of each patient, and corrects individual areas of the cornea differently, providing the kind of visual results that were, till now, considered impossible to achieve.

The first Contoura Vision Topography-Guided Laser Correction in Delhi was carried out by Dr. Sanjay Chaudhary in Eye 7 Hospital, New Delhi.

LASIK however, is contraindicated in a disease called Keratoconus, a progressive eye disease which is often associated with astigmatism. In this, the normally round cornea thins and begins to bulge into a cone-like shape, causing distorted vision. It is important to understand that very few patients of astigmatism actually have Keratoconus; but most patients of Keratoconus invariably have astigmatism. Before LASIK, your surgeon always will screen for Keratoconus, since the disease means you are not eligible for LASIK.

Keratoconus also does not mean that you are not eligible for vision correction which will offer you a safe and effective method for freedom from spectacles. There are several possibilities for correction of the astigmatism and refractive error associated with Keratoconus, including INTACS (Intra corneal Ring Segments), ICL (Implantable Collamer Lenses) in combination with Collagen Cross Linkage and various combinations of the same.

For eyes with astigmatism, not associated with corneal thinning, LASIK is an excellent option for freedom from glasses. In fact, LASIK is indicated for the correction of low, moderate, and high myopia, both with and without astigmatism. The limits of the power that can be corrected depends on the individual patient’s corneal thickness, and the kind of laser system being used. For example, a higher power can be corrected using the same laser for someone who has a thicker cornea. Similarly, for the same corneal thickness, SBK or Sub-Bowman’s Keratomileusis can correct a higher power more effectively and safely, than regular LASIK.

As is true for any other medical condition, it is best to discuss your apprehensions and concerns about your diagnosis and management of astigmatism, with your treating ophthalmologist. He or she is well equipped to offer you a safe and efficacious remedy for your problem. In today’s day and age, with the world’s foremost technologies being readily available, your ophthalmologist will definitely be able to find for you a solution for freedom from glasses.


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