Dr. Shonah Finlay Doctors Eye Care
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Can LASIK Correct Astigmatism?

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Imagine a world without glasses or contacts. Clear, sharp vision at the flick of a switch. Such promises of visual freedom have been the anthem of LASIK surgery for years, captivating those with imperfect vision. Yet, for individuals with astigmatism questions linger. 

We understand astigmatism isn’t just a medical term—it’s a daily struggle. LASIK has been successful at treating astigmatism for those who are good candidates for the surgery. There are a lot of variables to consider which we will explore in more detail. 

Unraveling Astigmatism

Before we leap into the laser’s domain, we must decode astigmatism. It’s an additional factor that can complicate the more common conditions of myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness). Astigmatism skews the focus, distorting both near and far objects.

Our cornea—the eye’s clear front surface—should resemble the dome of a perfectly shaped bowl. For the astigmatic eye, it’s more like the back of a spoon, with irregular curves. This shape inconsistency jumbles light as it enters the eye, leading to blurred vision. Imagine looking into a funhouse mirror that warps your reflection—astigmatism similarly warps your view of the world. The degree of visual distortion varies, heavily influenced by the severity of the curvature abnormality. 

At its core, the irregular curvature of the cornea or lens in an astigmatic eye fails to focus light rays to a single point on the retina. Instead, light is scattered, resulting in images that are stretched, blurred, or duplicated. 

Daily tasks that rely on clear vision, such as reading, driving, especially at night, or using digital screens, become challenging and can substantially impair one’s quality of life. This condition doesn’t just affect a specific part of your vision; it compromises your entire visual field.

Lasers vs. Astigmatism

Laser-assisted in Situ Keratomileusis, LASIK’s formidable full title, reshapes the cornea adjusting the eye’s focal point. By sculpting the cornea to a more uniform curve, the irregularities are smoothed out, allowing light onto the retina and sending crisp signals to the brain.

Before the procedure, people undergo a thorough consultation to tailor the treatment plan to their unique visual needs. It’s an opportunity to ask questions, understand potential outcomes, and set realistic expectations.

During the procedure, your surgeon will utilize a specialized laser, which is used to remove microscopic amounts of tissue from the cornea. The procedure itself is quick, often taking less than 30 minutes for both eyes. Most people report only mild discomfort during the recovery process. 

Post-surgery, patients typically notice improvement in their vision almost immediately, with further enhancements in the following weeks as the eyes heal. LASIK is not a one-size-fits-all answer to astigmatism. The success of LASIK for astigmatism rides on various factors—the degree of astigmatism, the cornea’s thickness, and the health of the eye among others. It isn’t about whether LASIK can correct astigmatism, but to what extent.

The Success Rate

Numbers can be reassuring, and research suggests LASIK’s patient satisfaction rate in treating astigmatism at approximately 81 to 95%. 

Opting for LASIK should be an informed decision, rooted in consultations with experienced eye surgeons. Transparency on what LASIK can realistically achieve for your astigmatism is key to postoperative satisfaction.

An ophthalmic surgeon performing LASIK surgery on a patient

Beyond the Laser Beam

Picture-perfect vision is the beacon that draws many to LASIK, but it is not a miracle cure-all. There are nuances—residual astigmatism, complications of surgery, or other unforeseen factors are all possible. It’s important to acknowledge its limits and be prepared for any possible outcome. 

In scenarios where LASIK may not be the optimal path to clear vision, there are alternatives. Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK), LASEK, or implantable lenses may be better suited for severe cases or those with peculiar corneal dynamics unsuitable for LASIK. The field of vision correction offers a multitude of approaches to cater to the diverse needs of astigmatic eyes.

The Choice & What’s Right for You

The ripple effects of LASIK can be profound—an uptick in confidence, a newfound liberation from the hassles of corrective eyewear, and the sheer joy of waking up to clear unaided vision. For people with astigmatism, the question isn’t whether LASIK can correct it—it’s more nuanced. It’s about creating realistic expectations, understanding the surgery’s potential, and aligning it with your individual needs. 

Advancements, research breakthroughs, and nuanced techniques are continually refining the procedure’s efficacy. The evolving horizon is one of constant growth and a future where LASIK could be more favorable for the astigmatic eye. For some, LASIK could be the path to clearer vision. For others, another option may be more effective. The choice, always, is anchored in the details of your unique story.

Our team at Doctors EyeCare Grande Prairie is committed to guiding you through this maze, providing the clarity and support needed for your overall eye health. To learn more about your eye health, or to determine if you may be a candidate for LASIK or similar corrective procedures, schedule an appointment with us today. 

Written by Dr. Shonah Finlay

Dr. Finlay grew up by the gold mines in South Africa and knew from a young age she wanted to follow a medically related career. She applied to and was accepted to study optometry at the former Rand Afrikaans University in South Africa. During her last year of studies, Dr. Finlay worked on the Train of Hope: South Africa’s Phelophepa. This custom-built train (now 2) travels throughout rural South Africa to deliver top-quality primary healthcare to disadvantaged communities. It was a wonderful experience to bring sight to so many people that otherwise do without. Those memories always remind her of why she loves practicing optometry.
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