Individuals who have astigmatism can generally explore LASIK surgery as a solution. However, there are certain limitations depending on astigmatism type.
Many eye care specialists have the proper technology to treat individuals who have a relatively high level of astigmatism. Being a candidate for LASIK surgery has certain requirements.
Generally, nearsightedness can be treated up to -8.0 diopters. Astigmatism, on the other hand, can be treated up to -3.0 diopters.
Astigmatism can be broken down into two different kinds: lenticular astigmatism and corneal astigmatism.
Corneal astigmatism occurs due to a defect located in the cornea. Lenticular astigmatisms occur due to defect or distortion in the eye lens.
Astigmatisms are also often categorized as either regular or irregular.
Regular astigmatisms occur when an individual’s eye isn’t rightfully curved. It is shaped more like a football than a basketball.
Regular astigmatism generally results in blurred or distorted vision.
Irregular astigmatisms are less common. With this type of astigmatism, the eye is not round, but it also has uneven curvature. Irregular astigmatism also results in blurred or distorted vision.
Irregular astigmatism can result from trauma to the eye. This type of astigmatism can also result from corneal conditions, which include the following:
- Pellucid marginal degeneration
- Epithelial basement membrane dystrophy
How Can LASIK Fix Astigmatism?
Lasers used during LASIK surgery are ultra-precise and are programmed to reshape the cornea of the eye. LASIK can render the front surface of the eye more symmetrical.
As a result, LASIK can fix astigmatism and permanently correct existing vision problems. Candidates eligible for LASIK surgery can generally have astigmatism fully corrected in one procedure. More severe forms of astigmatism will generally require additional enhancement in order to fine-tune vision correction.
It’s important to understand that LASIK can only help with corneal astigmatism due to the fact that LASIK addresses the cornea. Lenticular astigmatism cannot be corrected by LASIK.
Irregular astigmatism is often more difficult to address with LASIK, so people with this condition may not be candidates for LASIK.
LASIK Success Rates for People With Astigmatism
LASIK has a very high success rate, and the same is true for individuals with moderate astigmatism.
The Open Ophthalmology Journal published a 2018 study that asserts that around 90 percent of individuals getting LASIK for astigmatism achieved 20/20 vision, while 98.8 percent reported 20/40 vision 12 months after the procedure.
LASIK has been utilized for long enough that there is plenty of data to draw on showing a high rate of efficacy, safety, and predictability. LASIK is among the most popular elective procedures with one of the highest success rates.
Many patients who undergo LASIK experience permanently improved vision after one treatment, and many individuals who used to wear glasses or contacts find them unnecessary after LASIK treatment. However, some individuals who undergo LASIK still need to use corrective lenses even if their vision improved.
Pros & Cons of LASIK for Astigmatism
No matter the vision problems you’re experiencing, it’s important to evaluate the risks and rewards associated with LASIK surgery. Outcomes of LASIK surgery can vary from individual to individual.
Cons Associated with LASIK
As with any form of surgical procedure, there are some risks involved with LASIK. Some individuals experience dry eyes after the procedure, for instance, though this problem generally resolves within six months.
Although the risk is very low, there is also a chance that the procedure could cause additional vision issues, including halos and glare at night. Some patients who undergo LASIK will still have to wear glasses. Some patients might also need more than one procedure to experience maximum benefits.
Complications after LASIK are rare due to the fact that the procedure utilizes state-of-the-art technology. Lasers can be extremely precise, which is one aspect of why LASIK has such a high success rate.
Your risk level for complications will be assessed during your initial LASIK consultation. If your surgeon deems your risk level high, you are not a candidate for the procedure.
Pros Associated With LASIK for Astigmatism
LASIK is a quick procedure that only takes about 20 minutes, and most patients are fine to return to normal activities the next day. You don’t have to schedule a lot of time off work to get LASIK.
The surgery is very safe and has a high overall success rate. Conversely, LASIK has a low complication rate as well. The recovery process is smooth with no pain.
Many patients who undergo LASIK do not have to wear glasses or contacts after treatment, which means that LASIK is a procedure that can permanently improve vision for those who live with astigmatism and qualify for the surgery.
Alternatives to LASIK if You Have Astigmatism
For those who do not wish to have LASIK surgery for astigmatism, alternatives include the following:
- Phakic intraocular lens implants
- Refractive lens exchange surgery
- Contact lenses
In a pre-LASIK consultation, your eligibility will be assessed. If you aren’t a good candidate for LASIK, ask the surgeon about alternatives that may work well for your situation. In some cases, alternative forms of laser eye surgery may work.
Am I a Candidate?
To know for sure if you are a candidate for LASIK, you will need to have a consultation with an eye surgeon. Many eye care specialists offer complimentary consultations.
In a general sense, candidates for LASIK must be at least 18 years old and have good eye health. Candidates will also need to have good general health and a stable prescription. This means your prescription has remained the same for at least one year but ideally two years. Most often, this stabilization occurs by a person’s mid 20s.
Patients who get frequent eye infections or have autoimmune disorders that cause dry eye syndrome are not considered good candidates for LASIK surgery.
Influence of Different Types of Astigmatism on Visual Acuity. (July 2017). Journal of Optometry.
Comparison of Clinical Outcomes of LASIK, Trans-PRK, and SMILE for Correction of Myopia. (February 2022). Journal of the Chinese Medical Association.
Outcomes of LASIK for Myopia or Myopic Astigmatism Correction with the FS200 Femtosecond Laser and EX500 Excimer Laser Platform. (May 2018). The Open Ophthalmology Journal.
Outcome of a 10-Year Follow-Up of Laser in Situ Laser Keratomileusis for Myopia and Myopic Astigmatism. (December 2014). Taiwan Journal of Ophthalmology.
Is Lasik an Effective Treatment Modality for Hyperopia or Hyperopic Astigmatism? (July 2015). The Egyptian Journal of Hospital Medicine.
Comparative Study of the Outcome of LASIK in Moderate Versus High Astigmatism. (April 2014). Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.
Astigmatism and LASIK. (August 2002). Current Opinion in Ophthalmology.
Last Updated January 10, 2023
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