Should I have LASIK for astigmatism?
Mr Tariq Ayoub - 23 Mar 2022
Astigmatism can cause blurry vision that impacts your day-to-day life. LASIK for astigmatism is an option to counter the need for glasses or contact lenses, allowing you to lead a better quality of life.
Laser eye surgery is a popular option for treating astigmatism. Keep reading to learn what astigmatism is and the pros and cons of LASIK for astigmatism.
What is astigmatism?
Astigmatism occurs when the cornea or lens of your eye isn’t completely round as it should be. Instead, it is an oval shape – similar to a rugby ball.
Astigmatism is a common condition, with almost 50% of UK soft contact lens wearers having some degree of astigmatism.
Common symptoms of astigmatism include:
- Blurry or distorted vision
- Difficulty with night vision
- Squinting to see clearly
- Eye pain or discomfort
Is astigmatism worth correcting?
The degree to which you tackle the symptoms of astigmatism is entirely up to you. If you are comfortable with wearing glasses or contact lenses, then this may remain a suitable option for you.
However, you may wish to have a more permanent solution, especially if your prescription worsens. Then we may recommend laser eye surgery for your astigmatism. Keep reading to learn the laser eye surgery options for astigmatism.
Laser eye surgery for astigmatism
The laser eye surgery options for astigmatism differ depending on your prescription. Laser eye surgery for astigmatism is a popular option since it is usually a permanent solution.
Watch Mr Tariq Ayoub explain whether laser eye surgery can treat astigmatism in this short video.
LASIK for astigmatism
LASIK is the most popular eye surgery for treating astigmatism. LASIK corrects astigmatism by forming a flap and then removing ultra-thin layers from the cornea to reshape it.
There are two steps involved in LASIK surgery; in the first step a suction ring is applied to create a flap and in the second step laser is to to change the curvature and thickness of your cornea.
LASEK/ PRK (Photorefractive keratectomy)
LASEK (laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy) surgery and PRK are both flapless surgeries. They are less invasive than LASIK however healing is longer with LASEK/ PRK.
However, LASEK/ PRK can be a suitable option for those who cannot have LASIK. Both work by moving the corneal epithelium (the thinnest layer of the cornea) to access and fix any abnormalities.
SMILE (Small incision lenticule extraction)
SMILE surgery is only an option for people with short-sightedness. Similar to LASIK and trans-PRK, it works by reshaping the cornea by removing corneal tissue.
Implantable Contact Lens
Implantable contact lenses are suitable for people with a high prescriptions who are not suitable for laser vision correction. Compared to other refractive surgeries, ICL surgery may be more appropriate for people with thin corneas and dry eyes. In ICL surgery, a custom made artifical lens is placed on top of your natural crystalline lens allowing you to see clearly with glasses. In select patients with stable keratoconus, ICL surgery maybe a suitable option to achieve glasses independence.
Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery
In Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE), also known as lens replacement surgery, your natural lens is replaced with a special lens implant called a toric IOL to correct your astigmatism. The surgery can also be used to treat any myopa, hyperopia or presbyopia you may have in addition to the astigmatism. It also treats any cataracts that may form later in life. However, we usually advise having RLE after the age of 50.
LASIK for astigmatism
Before deciding on LASIK for astigmatism, we will assess the health of your eyes and the degree of your astigmatism.
We usually treat astigmatism with LASIK up to six diopters. However, we may be able to treat a higher prescription. You will need to discuss your circumstances with your ophthalmologist (eye specialist).
Before the procedure, we will administer numbing eye drops to prevent pain. Don’t wear makeup on the day of your surgery. You should also avoid wearing anything that could alter the position of your head lying down.
The procedure is quick and will last around 30 minutes. Feel free to ask any questions before we begin, as we want you to feel comfortable during your surgery.
After the procedure, you will be able to go home straight away. Though, you will need to arrange for a lift home and avoid bright lights for the rest of the day. We will provide specific eye care instructions following the procedure.
This could include:
- Avoiding computer screens for a couple of days
- Blinking more often to ease temporary discomfort
- Stopping contact sport or strenuous exercise for a week or two
- Wearing sunglasses in the sun
Your eyes may feel gritty or dry after LASIK, though this is normal and should fade with time.
Read our blog to learn more about the pros and cons of LASIK eye surgery: What are the benefits of LASIK laser eye surgery?
Book an appointment
If you aren’t happy needing to wear glasses or contact lenses every day, speak to an ophthalmologist about the treatment options for astigmatism.
We will assess your eye health and prescription to determine the most suitable treatment option for you.
Book a consultation today to start your journey and prioritise your eye health.
LESH. 2022. Will Laser Eye Surgery Fix Astigmatism? [online] Available at: <https://www.lasereyesurgeryhub.co.uk/laser-eye-surgery/astigmatism/>.
Toda I. Dry Eye After LASIK. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2018 Nov 1;59(14): DES109-DES115. doi: 10.1167/iovs.17-23538. PMID: 30481814.
Young G, Sulley A, Hunt C. Prevalence of astigmatism in relation to soft contact lens fitting. Eye Contact Lens. 2011 Jan;37(1):20-5. doi: 10.1097/ICL.0b013e3182048fb9. PMID: 21178696.