Astigmatism is a common condition that affects vision. It happens when the cornea is irregularly shaped, causing blurred vision. Sometimes, it is caused by the curvature of the lens inside the eye. Light is prevented from focusing on the retina properly, which causes vision to go out of focus at every distance. The curvature of the lens can change, affecting your vision. This change is more frequently seen in adulthood.
Astigmatism can affect anyone and increase or decrease over time. Besides an increased risk factor as one ages, the following are also causes of the condition:
- Development from an eye injury or surgery.
- Development from a rare condition known as keratoconus – where the cornea progressively thins and becomes cone-shaped.
Astigmatism often occurs with other vision conditions like nearsightedness and farsightedness. These three conditions are the most common types of refractive errors. A refractive error affects how the eyes bend or “refract” light, hence the name.
Over 30% of Americans have some degree of astigmatism and living with this eye condition can greatly affect their quality of life.
Those who have astigmatism may experience:
- blurred vision
- eye discomfort
- difficulty seeing at night
When light is not bent properly, objects can appear distorted and look too wide, too tall, too short, or too thin. Naturally, anyone would want these symptoms to go away.
Your optometrist can diagnose astigmatism through a comprehensive eye examination. The test measures how the eyes focus light and may include:
- Visual Acuity: which measures the distance you can read clearly
- Keratometry/Topography: which measures the curvature of the cornea
- Refraction: which uses an instrument called a phoropter to measure how your eyes focus light
Can It Go Away On its Own?
Unfortunately, astigmatism does not go away on its own. Symptoms may increase or decrease over time.
Can It Be Corrected?
Anyone dealing with astigmatism has asked themselves or others if it can go away or be fixed. The good news is that there are ways to correct it. There are various treatment options to consider.
Eyeglasses and Contact Lenses
So, can glasses correct astigmatism? Yes, the most common way to correct astigmatism is by wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses. There are various options made specifically for this specific vision problem.
Orthokeratology lenses are more rigid contact lenses that you wear while you sleep. The lenses help reshape your corneas overnight, albeit temporarily. When you wake up and remove the lenses, you can see quite well for the day without glasses or regular contacts.
After a day or so, your corneas return to their original shape. You’ll want to wear the lenses overnight continuously. While ortho-k is primarily used in corrective treatments for myopia, it can also correct moderate astigmatism.
Refractive Lens Exchange
A refractive lens exchange conducts the same procedure as cataract surgery, in which the natural lens is removed. The surgeon inserts something called a toric intraocular lens that corrects astigmatism.
Refractive lens exchange is a better option for older patients who are likely to develop cataracts soon.
Laser Refractive Surgery
PRK, LASIK, and ZEISS SMILE are laser eye surgeries that are commonly used to treat astigmatism.
- PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) removes tissue from the superficial and inner layers of the cornea.
- LASIK laser eye surgery only removes tissue from the inner layer.
- ZEISS SMILE laser eye surrey gently removes a small piece of corneal tissue through a microscopic incision.
Can LASIK Fix It?
Lasik surgery permanently treats astigmatism, effectively curing it. Additionally, LASIK surgery may remove the need for glasses and contacts permanently.
Tons of people may have astigmatism without even realizing they have it. The condition may not be severe enough for the individual to notice side effects. In this instance, laser correction is not necessary. In other cases, LASIK may be the only method of correcting severe astigmatism.
During Lasik surgery, a special laser reshapes the cornea to make it more spherical, correcting how it bends and focuses light.
Can LASIK Fix All Types of Astigmatism?
LASIK surgery efficiently treats most types of astigmatism. However, it is crucial to keep in mind that there are a few types that LASIK cannot fix.
Clinical factors and other characteristics usually group different types of astigmatism together. In terms of the type of refractive error, astigmatism is usually defined as regular or irregular. LASIK eye surgery corrects all subsets of regular astigmatism. In regular astigmatism, each meridian has a uniform curvature across the pupil.
For those who have irregular astigmatism, LASIK is not an option. In this type, the principal meridians of the cornea are not perpendicular. Because of this, the curvature is not uniform and changes from one point to another across the pupil. Irregular astigmatism is usually seen in individuals with irregular corneal surfaces. This irregularity can result from either natural causes or surgery.
Some natural causes include:
- Salzmann’s nodular degeneration
These corneal pathologies cause elevated lesions, leading to irregular astigmatism.
Surgically induced causes of irregular astigmatism include:
- Removing a pterygium (a growth of the mucous membrane that covers the white part of the eye)
- Extracting cataracts
- Keratoplasty (corneal surgery)
- Radial and astigmatic Keratectomy
- Lasik surgery
Additionally, an individual may develop it from corneal trauma or infections.
Contact LaserVue Eye Center to Learn More About Astigmatism and Your Treatment Options Today
At LaserVue Eye Center, we are dedicated to helping all of our patients achieve their best vision possible while providing the highest quality patient care. We want to help determine the best remedy for your unique situation and create a personalized treatment plan best for your needs.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation at one of our Bay Area locations.