Astigmatism is an often-misunderstood vision problem. Not only do some people spell it improperly — it’s “astigmatism” and not “a stigmatism” — many assume it is an eye disease when in fact it is a refractive error (an error affecting how the eye refracts, or bends, light).
Since many people don’t realize astigmatism is a refractive error, they may not understand that it can be corrected with LASIK. Laser eye surgeons like Dr. Ernest Kornmehl frequently use LASIK to help patients affected by astigmatism achieve independence from glasses and contact lenses.
What Is Astigmatism?
Astigmatism is an irregular curvature of the cornea. A normal, healthy cornea is spherical, like a basketball. A cornea with astigmatism is asymmetrical and conical, like a football. This prevents the light entering the eye from focusing on the retina. Instead of coming to a single focal point on the retina, the light comes to multiple focus points in front of the retina, behind it or both. The result: blurry or distorted vision.
There are several types of astigmatism. In cases of myopic astigmatism, one or both of the axes of the eyes (called meridians) are nearsighted. In cases of hyperopic astigmatism, one or both meridians are farsighted. In mixed astigmatism, one meridian is nearsighted and the other is farsighted.
What LASIK Accomplishes
LASIK can correct most types of astigmatism. During a LASIK procedure, a very precise laser is used to carefully remove microscopic bits of corneal tissue and reshape the cornea. The goal is to improve the symmetry of the eye’s surface, allowing light entering the eye to properly focus on the retina.
Are the Effects Permanent?
The correction of astigmatism with LASIK is considered to be permanent. Once the cornea has been reshaped, the tissue cannot grow back. Patients usually find their dependence on glasses or contacts is significantly reduced if not eliminated.
It’s important to keep in mind that LASIK does not prevent future age-related changes within the eye, such as presbyopia or cataracts, that can compromise visual clarity. LASIK patients may require reading glasses later in life due to presbyopia or may develop cataracts.
Learn More about LASIK for Astigmatism
If you are tired of wearing glasses or contact lenses for your astigmatism, Dr. Kornmehl can help. Please book an informational consultation with the laser eye surgeon to discuss your options. You can reach us by contacting our Boston office at 877-870-2010 or sending an email today.