You can be a candidate for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) if you have mild to moderate astigmatism. LASIK may help many people with vision correction, including:
These are all known as refractive eye conditions. LASIK is a type of laser surgery that corrects your vision by altering the shape of your cornea. Successful procedures can eliminate your need to wear glasses or contacts.
Astigmatism occurs when your cornea or lens is oddly shaped. It may be more oval-shaped rather than round. This creates focusing problems in your retina.
Objects in your sight line may be blurry because your eyes cannot focus light when you have astigmatism. Your condition can get better or worse over time.
Some signs that you have astigmatism are when you:
- have blurry vision that is possibly worse at night
- need to squint to see
- have eye pain
- experience headaches
Often, astigmatism goes along with other refractive eye conditions like nearsightedness and farsightedness.
You may have the condition and not even know it because the symptoms are subtle. Children and adults can have astigmatism.
LASIK is a procedure that uses a laser to reshape your cornea to correct refractive eye conditions. It has been around for several decades.
Mild and moderate refractive eye conditions can be treated with LASIK. Sometimes it may even help severe vision impairments.
It does not require a hospital stay and can be performed within 30 minutes in a doctor’s office. It is one type of laser corrective eye surgery.
There are rules of thumb that can describe who is a good candidate for LASIK based on vision measurements. Astigmatism is measured in diopters.
You can be eligible for LASIK if you have 6 or fewer diopters, if the astigmatism is regular, and if the health of the corneal allows.
You may have nearsightedness or farsightedness that can also factor into your eligibility for LASIK.
You cannot have more than -12D if you are nearsighted or +6D if you are farsighted to be eligible for this procedure.
Your eyesight measurements are not the only factors that determine whether you are a good candidate for LASIK. Other factors include:
- your goals for vision correction
- the overall health of your eyes, such as the thickness of the cornea
- the moisture content in your eyes
- stable eyesight that has not changed significantly in the last year
- your age (you must be 18 or older)
- your health status (those with conditions like autoimmune diseases or diabetes may not be eligible)
- whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding
Your doctor will take these factors into consideration in appointments leading up to the surgery.
Your doctor should conduct an eye exam before determining your eligibility. This may include measuring the moisture in your eyes.
Pros and cons
Getting LASIK for astigmatism is similar to getting it for nearsightedness or farsightedness.
LASIK is a surgical procedure that will alter the shape of your cornea. There are some risks involved. But the benefits of the procedure could outweigh those risks.
Some of the side effects you experience following the procedure will fade with time. Your doctor will give you clear instructions for healing following LASIK to reduce possible side effects.
LASIK is an outpatient procedure that your doctor can perform in about 30 minutes. You remain awake during it, but the doctor may give you a sedative to calm your body.
You will also receive numbing eye drops in your eyes so you are not bothered by the equipment needed to stabilize and operate on your eye.
Your doctor will use certain equipment to prevent you from blinking during the procedure and keep your eyes focused in the correct position.
Your doctor will use a laser to create a flap in your cornea. This gives your doctor access to the part of the eye behind the cornea. Your doctor then uses a second laser to change the curve and thickness of your cornea.
The LASIK procedure for astigmatism involves reshaping your cornea. A misshapen bend of the cornea causes astigmatism. Eyes without astigmatism have an evenly rounded surface like a basketball.
Eyes with astigmatism have a curve that is longer in one part, like a football. LASIK will smooth this curve so that it is more equally round.
You may also receive correction for nearsightedness or farsightedness during the procedure. This can involve flattening or steepening the cornea.
After your doctor has altered your cornea as intended, they will close the initial flap. This incision will heal over time.
What to expect
You will be able to go home following the LASIK procedure once you get the go ahead from your doctor. You cannot drive yourself home after the procedure.
Take a nap or rest after LASIK to allow your body to heal. You may experience discomfort for several hours following the procedure.
Your doctor will provide any eye drops necessary to fight off infection and keep your eyes moist. You may also need to wear an eye shield for a few days.
Avoid exercise and swimming following the procedure and wait for your doctor to indicate when you can resume these activities as well as driving.
Expect a few appointments with your doctor following the surgery. One may be the day after the procedure and others may be scheduled for the following weeks.
It may take 3 to 6 months for your vision to stabilize following the procedure. During that time, you may experience glare or blurriness.
LASIK has a high level of satisfaction among those who get it. One old 2009 study found that more than 95 percent of those who got LASIK were satisfied with the outcome of the procedure.
According to a 2020 research review, studies conclude that LASIK is “effective and predictable” for correcting vision for low to moderate astigmatism.
When to talk with a doctor
You should be in contact with your doctor if you have a refractive eye condition like astigmatism no matter how you decide to treat it.
LASIK may be a good choice if you don’t want to wear glasses or contacts. You can make a special appointment to discuss this with your doctor or bring it up at your annual eye exam.
Talk with your doctor regularly following your LASIK procedure. Contact your doctor if you experience any painful or unexpected symptoms or negative vision changes.
Your doctor will give you an idea of what your recovery will be like, so contact them if you encounter other symptoms.
The bottom line
Astigmatism is an eye condition that can be corrected with LASIK surgery. It is a refractive eye condition that occurs because of an unusual bend of your cornea.
LASIK surgery can change the shape of your cornea and diminish astigmatism symptoms.
Talk with your doctor to see if you are a candidate for this procedure. You may be able to correct your vision with LASIK and avoid having to wear other forms of vision correction like glasses or contacts.
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