If you have astigmatism, it’s likely that you might’ve considered getting laser eye surgery to treat it. After all, it has a very high success rate for treating other vision problems, including both near and farsightedness.
But does laser eye surgery for astigmatism actually work?
And what do you need to know about the process, before moving forwards?
Let’s break it down.
As you’ll probably know, astigmatism is a common vision problem where the lens of the eye or the cornea has an irregular curve. In simple terms, it means that your eye is shaped more like a rugby ball than a football.
This curvature changes the way that light enters the eye, as it provides two focal points instead of one, which can cause blurry and distorted vision.
There are two main types of astigmatism:
Both cause the same side effects, and both are often accompanied by farsightedness (hyperopia) and nearsightedness (myopia), though this isn’t always the case.
It’s not known what causes astigmatism, although it is usually present at birth, which indicates a link to genetics. It can also result from an injury, scar or operation to the eye if the corneal surface is damaged.
Your risk of developing astigmatism may be higher if you have:
Astigmatism can occur at any age and doesn’t always have a clear cause.
If you think you might be at risk of astigmatism, contact your optometrist for advice.
Common symptoms of astigmatism include:
Astigmatism doesn’t always present any symptoms, however. Some people will have astigmatism, without knowing it. That’s why it’s important to book regular appointments with your optometrist to quickly identify any problems and prevent them from worsening.
An optometrist can diagnose astigmatism by examining your eye with a keratometer, which measures the curvature of your cornea. They can also carry out a visual acuity assessment and refraction test, which assesses your ability to read letters at different distances.
If you are diagnosed with astigmatism, you’ll then be prescribed glasses and/or contact lenses, which will be able to temporarily correct your vision.
In a word: yes!
If you’re tired of blurry vision and relying on glasses or contact lenses to stop it, laser eye surgery for astigmatism offers a great and more permanent solution.
Laser eye surgery for astigmatism is slightly more complicated than treating myopia or hyperopia, however. This is because it requires correction in more than one place in the eye, due to the irregular curvature of the cornea or lens. That said, the procedure is still relatively straightforward and has a very high success rate. In fact, up to 90% of patients achieve 20/20 vision, depending on the surgery they have.
In simple terms, laser eye surgery for astigmatism sees the irregular curvature of the lens or cornea corrected with a laser, reshaping it to look more like a football than a rugby ball. This then removes the blurry vision caused by astigmatism.
The exact procedure of laser eye surgery for astigmation will depend on the type of surgery you choose. There are three main options for laser eye surgery to choose from, SMILE, LASIK or LASEK/PRK.
Read our article comparing these, here, for a detailed breakdown of what each procedure involves — including their pros and cons.
The most popular laser eye surgery for astigmatism is usually LASIK surgery because it can treat the widest range of prescriptions.
LASEK surgery involves the following steps:
The procedure usually takes around 15-30 minutes, and is completely pain-free. You’ll usually be able to return to work just a few days after your surgery, too.
You should expect to pay around £1,500-2,700 per eye for LASIK surgery, depending on your prescription and choice of clinic.
Laser eye surgery for astigmatism is a very safe procedure that’s carried out frequently and successfully. That said, as with any other surgery, there are some potential risks to be aware of. These include:
Severe loss of vision is very rare, but you should speak to your doctor about this for advice tailored to you. They’ll know if you are a good candidate for the surgery or not.
Not everyone is a suitable candidate for laser eye surgery. Those with thin or damaged corneas, for example, are more predisposed to the risks of the surgery, and you have to be at least 21-years-old to be eligible for it.
With or without astigmatism, laser eye surgery has a very high success rate. Up to 90% of patients achieve 20/20 vision. Of course, all patients respond differently, but the odds of restoring your vision are certainly very high.