Astigmatism is a very common problem that fully one-in-three members of the adult population experience. When you have astigmatism, the shape of your cornea is spherical rather than round. With an odd shaped cornea, the light that enters the eye is bent unevenly and causes your vision to be distorted or blurred.
If you find yourself squinting in order to see, this may be a sign that you are experiencing astigmatism. Another sign of this condition is unexplained headaches. Both of these symptoms are caused by a need to focus more clearly.
There are two types of astigmatism: Regular and irregular. Regular Astigmatism is simply caused by having a naturally oddly shaped cornea. Irregular Astigmatism is usually caused by disease or injury to the cornea. Regular astigmatism can usually be addressed with corrective eyeglasses; however, irregular astigmatism can be more challenging.
In particular, a disease is known as keratoconus (which is often to blame for astigmatism that occurs between the ages of 10 and 20) is quite challenging to treat. This I disease causes the cornea to become gradually thinner and thinner. It can be hard to treat this type of astigmatism with eyeglasses, but custom contact lenses may be helpful.
What About Treating Astigmatism With LASIK?
It’s very important that your doctor performs a thorough evaluation to determine exactly what type of astigmatism you have before recommending Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) procedure; however, after a thorough evaluation, you may find that LASIK can be very helpful in treating astigmatism. This type of eye surgery is very effective in reshaping the corneal inner layer as a way of correcting mild to moderate astigmatism.
LASIK can also be used to correct vision problems even in people who do not have astigmatism. This can be very handy for athletes and other very physically active people who would be hampered by the use of contact lenses or eyeglasses.
When LASIK is used to treat astigmatism, it works by changing the curvature of the cornea. It can either steepen or flatten this curvature through the use of a cool laser beam. For the most part, patients who have astigmatism experience positive results from the use of LASIK.
Can Anyone Have LASIK Surgery?
In some cases, patients who have very severe astigmatism cannot qualify for the surgery. Additionally, children do not qualify for LASIK surgery as it is generally recommended that approved patients be 18 years of age or older. The reason for this is that the eyes’ refractive error must be stabilized in order for this type of surgery to have the best results.
After a thorough evaluation, if you are approved for LASIK surgery you can expect to enjoy better vision soon and permanently. Once approved, you may be able to have your surgery within 24 hours. The surgery itself is painless and usually takes no more than an hour and a half or less.
What Happens During The Surgery?
For the procedure, your doctor will use topical anesthetic eye drops to alleviate discomfort. You may also take some prescription medication for relaxation.
Your eyelids will be held open with a lid speculum. Your surgeon will make a very small semicircular flat in your cornea to access the eye with a cool ultraviolet light beam.
Once adjustments have been made to the cornea, the flap will be put back in place and will act as a natural protective covering facilitate the healing process.
Right after surgery, you may experience a little discomfort in your eye. Your doctor may prescribe a mild pain reliever.
Be careful not to rub your eyes, and don’t use any cosmetic products around your eyes until your doctor gives you the go-ahead.
Your doctor will give you a schedule to follow for checkups, and he or she will let you know when you can resume active sports, use of makeup and so on.
It may take a while for your vision to stabilize (up to 6 months).During this time, you may need to refrain from driving at night, participating in contact sports and any other activity as directed by your doctor.
All-in-all, LASIK is a safe and effective way to treat astigmatism. If you take care to follow your doctor’s orders and have a bit of patience, you are sure to be happy with the results.