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Can you Get LASIK if you Have Astigmatism?

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Astigmatism is a widespread vision condition affecting how light enters the eye, making vision blurry or distorted. It is estimated that around 30% of the population has astigmatism, and for many years, those with this condition thought that laser eye surgery was not an option. However, with technological advances in recent years, LASIK has become more accessible and effective for people with astigmatism.

It is essential to note that LASIK surgery is not a one-size-fits-all solution for astigmatism. LASIK can be a good option for people with astigmatism, but it depends on the severity of the condition.

To understand if you can get LASIK with astigmatism, you need to understand what astigmatism is and how LASIK works. During a laser eye surgery consultation, the doctors at Eye Care Center of Colorado Springs can help determine whether your astigmatism can be corrected with the procedure.

What Is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism occurs when the cornea, the clear front part of the eye, is irregularly shaped. Instead of being round, as in a normal eye, it can be shaped more like a football. This irregular shape causes light to focus on two points, either in front of or behind the retina, resulting in blurry or distorted vision.

Many have astigmatism alongside other refractive errors, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, and common symptoms include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Reflexive squinting
  • Eye pain
  • Headaches
  • Eye strain

Can LASIK Correct Astigmatism?

Fortunately, advances in modern medicine have made it possible to correct astigmatism with LASIK surgery.

LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) surgery is a type of refractive surgery aimed at correcting vision problems by reshaping the cornea. When used to correct astigmatism, the procedure removes a thin layer of tissue from the cornea in a pre-determined pattern, reshaping the cornea to correct the irregularities that can cause astigmatism.

By reshaping the cornea, light can focus onto the retina properly, eliminating or reducing the need for glasses or contacts and improving overall visual clarity.

LASIK can typically correct up to 6 diopters of astigmatism, which is considered moderate. If your astigmatism is more severe than that, LASIK may not be a good option for you.

Your optometrist can perform a comprehensive eye exam to determine if LASIK can help your vision. They will measure the curvature and thickness of your cornea and the overall health of your eyes to determine if LASIK is an option for you.

What to Expect During the LASIK Procedure

The LASIK procedure is quite safe and straightforward. You’ll be given a series of numbing eye drops to help minimize discomfort during the procedure. Next, your doctor will use equipment to prevent your eyes from blinking and keep them focused. A laser creates a small flap in the cornea, giving your doctor access to the tissue beneath.

The cornea is then reshaped by adjusting the curvature and thickness with another laser, and the flap is closed and typically heals without stitches. The entire procedure usually takes just 10-15 minutes per eye.

The success rate of LASIK surgery in improving astigmatism is relatively high, usually making it an effective treatment option. According to studies, approximately 95% of all patients who undergo LASIK surgery for astigmatism experience improved vision.

While it’s a highly effective treatment option, it may only suit some with astigmatism. The first step is to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to determine if you are a candidate for LASIK.

Other Methods to Correct Astigmatism

Traditional vision correction methods can help improve your vision with astigmatism, such as glasses, but when it comes to contact lenses, you need a specialized lens to correct vision effectively.

Toric Contact Lenses

Unlike regular contact lenses with a spherical shape, toric lenses are shaped like a doughnut to better fit the irregular shape of an eye with astigmatism. These lenses are available in soft and rigid gas-permeable materials and can be worn on a daily or extended wear basis.

Toric contact lenses require proper fitting by an eye care professional, as they need to be oriented correctly on the eye to provide vision correction. The doctors at Eye Care Center of Colorado Springs can help find a fit for hard-to-fit eyes with specialty contact lenses to correct distorted vision.

A woman receiving an eye examination from a male optometrist.

Correct Your Vision Long-Term with LASIK

With advances in medical technology, LASIK surgery is an option to correct your vision and improve your overall quality of life. However, it is essential to schedule a consultation with the Eye Care Center of Colorado Springs team to determine if LASIK is a good fit for your eyes.

Factors that may affect your eligibility include the severity of astigmatism, overall eye health, and age. A consultation can help determine a course of action if you’re considering LASIK for your vision.

Written by Dr. Sara Johnson

Dr. Sara Whitney graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry from Rockford College in Rockford, IL and received her Doctor of Optometry degree from Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, TN. As an optometry student, Dr. Whitney completed a primary care externship in Wilmington, NC, and a hospital-based rotation at the Naval Health Clinic of Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, TX. Dr. Whitney has cared for patients as an optometrist in the Colorado Springs area since May of 2009. She has experience in family eye care, including pediatric eye examination, adult eye care, treatment and management of ocular disease, contact lens fitting, and eye surgery co-management. Colorado State licensed and certified in ocular pharmaceutical agents, Dr. Whitney’s training and experience allow her to diagnose, treat, and manage or co-manage all eye conditions. Professional memberships include the American Optometric Association, Colorado Optometric Association, and Southern Colorado Optometric Society.
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