Can LASIK Fix Your Astigmatism?

Woman having an eye exam

From our first eye exam, we’re introduced to eye jargon. We’re suddenly immersed in words like astigmatism, nearsighted, farsighted, cornea, lens, and on the list goes.

These terms can be difficult to truly learn when you don’t use them every day. Even those who need vision correction can struggle to integrate them into their vocabulary.

But understanding the basics of vision, how it works, and some of its hallmark terms can really help you set achievable goals and improve your outcomes, especially if you’re considering laser vision correction.

So, in that spirit, welcome to the first in a series of “mini classes” on common vision terms. First up: astigmatism. In this short article, we’ll cover what it is, how it changes your vision, and ways to address it.

Astigmatism’s Brief Definition

Ideally, the eye’s cornea (the transparent front of the eye) and lens (the clear, inner tissue that focuses light on the retina) should be rounded and evenly shaped. An astigmatism alters these curvatures. Rather than an eye that’s spherical like a basketball, an astigmatism typically makes the cornea or lens resemble the shape of a football. Astigmatism’s asymmetrical shape can stretch horizontally, making the eye wider than it is tall, or vertically, making the eye taller than it is wide.

How Astigmatism Changes Vision

Astigmatism’s irregular curvatures cause two focal points to develop instead of one. When there are two focal points, light entering the eye has to split to hit both points. For clear vision, light should come to one point on the center of the retina, but typically when there are two focal points, light hits either in front or or behind the retina. When the light entering the eye focuses in front of the retina, it causes nearsightedness. When it focuses behind the eye, it causes farsightedness. In both cases, the result is blurry vision.

Treating Astigmatism

Astigmatism can be managed with corrective lenses. Because astigmatism can change over time, corrective lenses require regular maintenance and updates to ensure clear vision is still being achieved.

Many patients are surprised to learn that laser vision correction is an option for astigmatism. LASIK is the most well-known procedure, and it uses an Excimer laser to gently reshape the cornea into a more rounded and symmetrical shape. After LASIK, light enters the eye with only one focal point, which means clearer vision. The results of LASIK are permanent, but in rare occasions astigmatism can return due to changes in the lens of the eye.

It’s important to note that some patients have a refractive error that falls outside Vance Thompson Vision’s treatment limits, meaning LASIK isn’t their safest and most effective option. The best way to learn your options is to schedule a free LASIK consultation at Vance Thompson Vision. Many times, if you aren’t a candidate for LASIK, there are other vision correction procedures that will work for you.