Many ask: Can LASIK fix astigmatism? The short answer is YES! Astigmatism affects 1 in 3 people in the U.S. with blurry vision, eye strain, and the potential lifetime dependence on glasses or contacts. However, advances in laser vision correction technology make it possible for those with astigmatism prescriptions to reduce or eliminate their need for glasses with LASIK or other laser vision correction procedure.
Most astigmatism is hereditary, meaning people are born with it. Because astigmatism is the result of an uneven or imperfectly shaped eye (an analogy often used to describe this is to say the cornea is shaped like a football), most people have some – even very slight – degree of astigmatism. If the eye isn’t perfectly round – like a basketball – light can’t focus accurately which leads to blurred vision.
While glasses and contacts can help correct or fix astigmatism, today’s laser eye surgery options can provide more people than ever with clear, reliable, and safe vision without them. Most people are familiar with LASIK, but there are several alternatives in laser vision correction today including SMILE and PRK.
D is for Diopter
Vision prescriptions are measured in diopters (D), which is a unit of optical power. A perfect eye, also known as “plano,” has 0 D. However, most people – even if they are unaware of it – have at least a small amount of visual distortion – usually between .5 and .75D. Typically, people with prescriptions over .75 require some form of correction to fix their astigmatism, usually in the form of glasses or contacts.
How can LASIK fix astigmatism?
LASIK, SMILE, and PRK work by using sophisticated laser technologies to reshape the cornea, eliminating the imperfections that create vision problems and improving the eye’s ability to focus clearly. Today’s advanced laser eye surgeries can treat a broad range of vision prescriptions:
- up to 6D (diopters) of astigmatism
- up to -12D of nearsightedness
- up to +6D of farsightedness
It isn’t unusual for people to have both nearsightedness as well as astigmatism in their vision prescription. Fortunately, today’s laser vision correction options can treat those with mixed prescriptions.
Early in the development of laser vision correction, more than 30 years ago, those with astigmatism or a mix of astigmatism and nearsightedness may not have been good candidates. However, today’s advancements in laser technology, along with the development of more types of laser vision correction, make it possible for more patients and more prescriptions to be eligible for laser eye surgery.
Finding out if LASIK can treat your astigmatism
There are so many options in laser vision correction today, having a thorough evaluation by an eye surgeon is the best first step in getting an answer to the question: Can LASIK fix my astigmatism? Importantly, that consultation includes a spectrum of sophisticated diagnostics of your eye to measure all the different aspects of it that go into how well (or how poorly) you see. A lot of data is gathered, all of which helps the surgeon answer a few questions:
- Are your eyes healthy?
- Is your vision prescription in a treatable range for laser vision correction?
- Are you are good candidate for laser eye surgery?
- If so, which procedure – or procedures – are best suited for you and your vision?
- If not, are there other vision correction options I might consider?
The good news is today there are lots of different procedures your eye surgeon can perform to eliminate or reduce your need for glasses or contacts, even if you have astigmatism. If you are ready to take the next step, find an eye surgeon in your area for a consultation.