Astigmatism is a common eye condition characterized by blurry vision. Most people have at least a mild astigmatism and do not require any treatment.
But if the issue is serious enough to warrant a trip to the eye doctor, corrective lenses can sharpen the vision and reduce eye discomfort. It is not a cure, but glasses or contact lenses can usually solve the problem.
The real cure: surgery.
Astigmatism happens because of an irregular curvature of the eye. Instead of the usual round shape, those with astigmatism have oval-shaped eyes.
If poor vision is caused by poor corneal curvature, then you have a corneal astigmatism. If it stems from a bad shaping of the lens, it is called lenticular astigmatism. Both lead to improper focusing of light rays on the retina, causing blurry vision, eyestrain or headaches.
Regardless of the type of astigmatism, treatment tries to correct blurry vision by compensating for irregularities on the refractory aspects of the eye or by reshaping the cornea.
Eye surgery is the most efficient way to treat astigmatism to the point that you likely would not need eyeglasses after the procedure. The two most common procedures are LASIK surgery and PRK surgery.
LASIK stands for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis and PRK is the acronym for photorefractive keratectomy. Either can cure astigmatism of any degree. But it doesn’t have to be the only option.
Most people have mild astigmatism and do not require any treatment. Corrective lenses can sharpen your vision and reduce eye discomfort making them the most popular treatment for blurry vision due to irregular corneal or lenticular curvature.
Your eye care professional will help you decide if the best corrective action is glasses, surgery or even eye exercises.
Treatment to Cure Astigmatism
Ocular specialists do not know the cause of astigmatism, so no prevention strategies exist. Still, the condition is easily treatable with corrective lenses, laser surgery, or eye exercises. Most people have mild, asymptomatic astigmatism of 0.5 to 0.75 diopters requiring no treatment. But if you have a moderate-severe disease, you can benefit from:
The lens solution can either be glasses or contact lenses. The correct lens will improve eye comfort and reduce vision blurring by compensating for the irregularities of the cornea and lens.
Eyeglasses: They contain special cylindrical lenses to help create specific meridians or invisible lines of the eye. The cylindrical lenses counter the unevenness of the cornea and allow you to focus the light rays properly on the retina. Glasses can also correct other refractive errors such as myopia and hyperopia, otherwise known as nearsightedness and farsightedness.
Contact lenses: Soft contacts and rigid gas permeable contacts correct astigmatism using the same principle as eyeglasses. However, contacts provide clearer vision and a wider field of view than glasses as they are worn directly on the eye. A high standard of hygiene is the only downside of choosing contact lenses over eyeglasses.
Orthokeratology: This is another treatment for astigmatism. The procedure involves wearing different rigid contact lenses for a short interval to reshape the cornea. Typically, you wear the lenses overnight and remove them in the morning. While orthokeratology is effective, it does not cure astigmatism. If you stop fitting the retainer lenses your vision returns to its initial state.
Refractive surgeries for treating astigmatism include LASIK (laser in situ keratomileusis), LASEK (laser-assisted sub-epithelial keratectomy), Epi-LASEK and PRK (photorefractive keratectomy). If you qualify for surgery, the doctor uses a laser beam to reshape your cornea and eliminate the curvature irregularities.
- LASIK: The procedure involves making a thin, hinged corneal flap and sculpting the cornea using an excimer laser. Your doctor then repositions the flap.
- LASEK: Unlike LASIK, in which the doctor creates a corneal flap, the surgeon uses unique alcohol to loosen corneal epithelium. This allows reshaping of the eye using a laser beam correcting astigmatism.
- PRK: The eye surgeon removes your corneal epithelium and reshapes the rest of the tissue. The epithelium will grow back on its own, conforming to the cornea’s new shape.
Other newer refractive surgeries such as small-incision lenticular extraction and implantable contact lenses are potential treatment options for astigmatism. You should discuss with your doctor the method that suits you best. Remember, every eye surgery has its risks and possible complications. But, successful refractive surgery means you do not have to wear corrective lenses.
Physical eye exercises such as rectus muscle relaxation, eye yoga, blinking and eye massage can help treat mild astigmatism.
LASIK vs LASEK vs PRK: advantages and indications. (March 2003). Seminars in Ophthalmology.
Astigmatism: Diagnosis & Treatment. (October 2021). Mayo Clinic.
Vector Analysis of the Effects of FS-LASIK and Toric ICL for Moderate to High Astigmatism Correction. (May 2007). Hindawi. Journal of Ophthalmology.
New Treatment for Regular Astigmatism Using Physical Exercises. (February 2021). Medico-Legal Update.
Last Updated February 26, 2022
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