What is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a common eye condition resulting from an imperfect curvature of the cornea, the clear dome that sits over the iris and pupil. The cornea ideally should have the same curvature both horizontally and vertically.  This allows light to be focused at a single point, which allows us to see a clear image.

When the horizontal curvature is greater than the vertical curvature of the cornea, or vice versa, light is unable to be focused on a single point, resulting in blurred vision at both near and distance.

Treatment Options for Astigmatism

While many patients have very mild cases of astigmatism, some instances may be more severe and can create significant visual distortion. Mild to moderate astigmatism is easily treated with corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses, while more severe instances of the condition can be corrected through a variety of refractive eye surgeries.

Treat Astigmatism through LASIK

LASIK is a procedure performed by a surgeon with a laser that can reshape the cornea and thus correct the patient’s astigmatism to create clearer vision. Because your eyes and your vision are as unique to you as your fingerprints and DNA, it’s very difficult for us to know whether LASIK eye surgery can benefit you without a personal examination.

While anyone interested in LASIK will need to schedule a consultation, these are the basic qualifications to be a candidate:

  • 18 years or older
  • Stable vision for at least one year (same prescription)
  • Healthy cornea based on pre-operative screening

Treat Astigmatism through Cataract Surgery

There is also an opportunity to correct astigmatism permanently by way of cataract surgery. The two main methods to correct astigmatism are:

  • Limbal Relaxing Incisions (LRI)
  • Toric Intraocular Lenses (IOLs)

These are both performed at the same time as cataract surgery and result in reduced astigmatism and, often, reduced dependence on glasses.

Limbal Relaxing Incisions (LRI)

For small amounts of astigmatism, a technique call Limbal Relaxing Incisions works well. It is a procedure that can be performed either at the beginning or end of cataract surgery. It involves making arc-shaped incisions in the cornea at the areas of steeper curvature. The goal of the incisions is to flatten these areas, correcting astigmatism and resulting in good distance vision without glasses.

Toric IOLs

For higher amounts of astigmatism, where limbal relaxing incisions do not work very well, Toric (astigmatism-correcting) intraocular lenses are very effective. These lenses have greater focusing power in certain parts of the lens in order to cancel out astigmatism of the cornea. The lenses are rotated during surgery to be oriented at the axis of astigmatism. The lenses are more predictable than LRIs as their effectiveness is not variable depending on the healing response of the cornea as is the case with LRIs.

Neither LRIs nor toric lenses are covered by insurance and require an out-of-pocket fee.

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