Laser Eye Surgery for… Astigmatism
Over the decades since its popular introduction in the 1980s, Laser Eye Surgery has developed to become the most popular elective procedure in the world. To date, millions of people have experienced how Laser Eye Surgery can change their lives for the better.
Despite this popularity, however, many are still unaware that they too could wave “goodbye!” to glasses and contact lenses for good. That’s right, Laser Eye Surgery can now treat a wide range of refractive errors, including presbyopia, myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism.
What is Astigmatism?
One of the four most common refractive errors, astigmatism causes abnormalities in the shape of the cornea. In healthy eyes, the cornea has a rounded, spherical shape – like a football. However, in astigmatic eyes, the cornea is shaped more like a rugby ball. This is known as corneal astigmatism.
In some cases, it may be the shape of the lens, as opposed to the cornea, which is distorted. This is known as lenticular astigmatism. Astigmatism can also co-occur with other common refractive errors, such as long-sightedness (hyperopia) or short-sightedness (myopia).
This means that the cornea or lens is steep on one side while being flat on the other, affecting the way that light is reflected into the eye. As a result, light enters the eye through two points of focus, creating a blurred image.
In many cases, astigmatism is inherited; however, it can also be caused by injury or disease. In addition to blurred vision, astigmatism has also been linked to:
- Needing to squint to see clearly
- Eye strain
- Trouble seeing at night
In the video below, Dr Glenn Carp explains: ‘What is Astigmatism’.
It is a long-held belief that Laser Eye Surgery cannot treat astigmatism, but while that may have used to be the case – it certainly isn’t anymore. In fact, at London Vision Clinic, we’ve been using Laser Eye Surgery for Astigmatism for years!
How Does Laser Eye Surgery Treat Astigmatism?
In order for astigmatism to be corrected, the shape of the cornea needs to be adjusted to allow for the effective refraction of light into the eye. Luckily, that’s exactly what Laser Eye Surgery does!
As treating astigmatism requires correction in more than one plane, it is more complex than treating long- or short-sightedness. However, with access to world-renowned surgeons and state-of-the-art technology, it is possible to treat astigmatism with LASEK/PRK, LASIK, and ReLEx SMILE.
In Laser Eye Surgery, access is gained to the corneal bed by creating either a flap (LASIK) or hole (SMILE) in the cornea. in PRK and LASEK, a small section of the corneal epithelium is removed to allow the surgeon to reshape the cornea beneath.
A second laser is then used to remove parts of this tissue, reshaping the cornea and correcting the error.
Dr Glenn Carp explains how Laser Eye Surgery is used to correct Astigmatism.
What are the Alternatives to Treating Astigmatism?
For most people, glasses and contact lenses are the primary solution to astigmatism. Such external visual aids have been the go-to option for managing astigmatism for centuries, and many people are still unaware that there are alternatives available.
While at London Vision Clinic, we routinely treat Astigmatism with Laser Eye Surgery, this isn’t always possible. However, there are alternative treatments available.
Patients who are not suitable for Laser Eye Surgery treatment may be offered an alternative. For example, Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL) surgery can be used to correct astigmatism up to 6.00D. This acts as a sort of built-in contact lens, correcting the way light is directed into your eye.