Many people will have heard of the term astigmatism, but few will really understand what it means. Those who have been diagnosed with astigmatism may think that they can no longer benefit from laser eye surgery, and that they have an incurable disease. In reality, astigmatism is simply just a way of describing a type of vision and should not prevent people from going for treatments such as laser eye surgery in any way.
What is astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a simple eye condition that is fairly common in adults all over the world. It affects the vision by reducing clarity and making it harder to focus on objects. It is often caused by an irregular shaped cornea, specifically one which is shaped more like an oval than a sphere. This irregularity means the visible light focusses in more than one place in the eye, resulting in blurry or out of focus vision. The condition can range from very mild loss of clarity to severely limited vision, causing headaches and tiredness in many patients. In fact, many people with long or short sighted prescriptions also suffer from some degree of astigmatism, although they may not know it.
In very mild cases of astigmatism, there may be no corrective action required at all. In other cases the user may need to decide whether to have:
- Glasses: Regular glasses are fine for treating many degrees of astigmatism.
- Contact lenses: Contacts can be used to restore sight and, for most patients, are a comfortable and unobtrusive way to correct their vision.
- Intraocular lenses: For people who don’t want the hassle of glasses or contacts but aren’t suitable for laser eye surgery, intraocular lenses can be a workable option.
- Laser eye surgery: Using technology such as LASIK and LASEK, patients can achieve a permanent solution to poor vision.
Laser eye surgery to treat astigmatism
Laser eye surgery is suitable for all degrees of astigmatism. The decision whether or not it is right for you will not depend so much on the condition, rather on your own general health, your optical health and your personal preferences. A short consultation will reveal whether you are a suitable candidate for laser eye surgery, where the consultant will check things like:
- How much correction is needed
- How thick your cornea is
- Whether you have any signs of eye disease
- How big your pupil is
- Whether your vision is stable or deteriorating
- If you are over 18 and in good general health
If you are deemed to be suitable for laser eye surgery, then it will be down to your own personal preference as to whether you would like to go ahead or not. As a general rule, around 85 per cent of glasses and hard lens wearers are suitable for surgery, and around 95 per cent of soft lens wearers are suitable too.
Extra considerations for people with astigmatism
There really are no additional considerations for people suffering with astigmatism to make. The risks and benefits of laser eye surgery are the same whether you have been diagnosed with astigmatism or any other eye condition. Make sure you understand the process and are happy with the procedure, and ensure you follow the aftercare advice, then you should make a full and permanent recovery just as any other patient would.