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Treating Astigmatism With Laser Refractive Surgery: An Ophthalmologist Explains

Treating Astigmatism With Laser Refractive Surgery: An Ophthalmologist Explains undefined
Astigmatism is a common vision condition that often occurs when the cornea of the eye is irregularly shaped, sometimes due to the curvature of the lens inside the eye. This can lead to flawed vision, eye discomfort, and even headaches.
 
What are effective ways to treat astigmatism and what kinds of complications may arise? Ophthalmologist Dr David Chan answered some common questions regarding astigmatism from DoctorxDentist readers. Here's what he shared.

 

What is astigmatism?

an asian man drinking starbucks coffee

Astigmatism is caused by an irregularly shaped cornea or lens that prevents light from focusing properly on the retina. This leads to blurred vision and eye discomfort. [1] [2]

Astigmatism usually occurs with other conditions

blurred vision bokeh

Other vision issues such as myopia or hyperopia often occur together with astigmatism. These combinations are known as refractive errors (that affect the refraction of light). [3] [2]

LASIK can be performed on patients with low astigmatism

 

a young woman with glasses and a fringe


If refractive errors are relatively low, then you could consider opting for LASIK as well as other options such as PRK and ReLEx SMILE. These treatments can help improve your vision as long as astigmatism is not too severe. [4]

 

However, patients should undergo a suitability assessment first

a wooden table with glasses and an inspirational sign


Before carrying out any form of laser vision correction, it is always best to go for a suitability assessment. Factors such as corneal thickness, shape, and general health can all be considered and determined. [5]

It is best to wait until you are at least 18 years of age before refractive surgery

 

a young child with a cake


Generally, children (including teenagers) should not get any form of refractive surgery, since their eyes are not yet fully matured and they might experience significant changes in refractive errors. [6]

Lasers may be ineffective for treating high levels of astigmatism

 

a selection of glasses at an optical shop


Lasers such as PRK, LASIK, and ReLEx SMILE may not be able to provide long-term stability for high levels of astigmatism. In fact, it could increase the chance of complications like dysphotopsia (haloes & glares) and corneal ectasia. [7]

Consider Implantable Collamer Lenses as an alternative treatment

 

a woman in a flower field looking at camera


If you have high levels of myopia and astigmatism, Dr David suggests implantable collamer lens (ICL) as a viable option. Check with your doctor if there is sufficient space within the eye first. [8]

Refractive surgery methods such as LASIK can be effective in some instances of astigmatism or other refractive errors. However, get your ophthalmologist to give you a complete evaluation before making a decision as there are possible complications that may arise.

Would you like to ask any related health questions? 

You can Ask A Doctor right away, or view the complete list of DoctorxDentist Sessions.

 

 

References:

1. Alan Kozarsky. What Is Astigmatism? WebMD. 9 Sept 2018. Accessed April 2019.

2. American Optometric Association. Astigmatism. American Optometric Association. 2019. Accessed April 2019.

3. Mayo Clinic Staff. Farsightedness. Mayo Clinic. 12 June 2018. Accessed April 2019.

4. Brian S. Boxer Wachler. The LASIK Procedure: A Complete Guide. All About Vision. May 2018. Accessed April 2019.

 5. WebMD. A Guide to Refractive and Laser Eye Surgery. WebMD. 2019. Accessed April 2019.

 6. Vance Thompson. How Old Do You Have To Be To Get LASIK? All About Vision. March 2018. Accessed April 2019.

 7. Vanessa Caceres. Treating, eliminating negative dysphotopsia. Eyeworld: An ASCRS Publication. April 2014. Accessed April 2019.

 8. Brenda Conaway. Implantable Lenses: Help for Severe Myopia. WebMD. 2019. Accessed April 2019.

296 views 3 Apr 2019 Medically reviewed by Dr David Chan on 16 Apr 2019.
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