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Laser Eye Surgery For Astigmatism

Astigmatism is a word that most people have heard of but very people know exactly what it is. It is often misconceived as being some kind of eye disease but this is not that case. Astigmatism is simply a type of prescription and is no different to being either long sighted or short sighted.

Astigmatism is extremely common with about 50% of the population having it to some degree. It can be corrected by glasses, contact lenses or laser eye surgery. If you have mild astigmatism (less than one Dioptre) then you are unlikely to need any visual correction. It is normally when the astigmatism is greater than 1 Dioptre that people feel the need to correct it.
Laser eye surgery for astigmatism

People often wrongly assume that laser eye surgery cannot correct astigmatism but this is definitely not the case. The technology has now advanced to the point where laser eye surgery can correct very large amounts of astigmatism.

How Do I Know if I Have Astigmatism?

The best way to find this out is by having an eye test. If you have already had a recent eye test you can deduce the amount of astigmatism you have by looking at your prescription card.

The following is a typical prescription card:

Sph         cyl         axis

-1.50      -2.50      90

The sph (sphere) represents if you are long or short sighted. If it is a minus number you are short sighted and if it is a plus number you are long sighted. The Cyl (cylinder) represents the amount of Astigmatism you have. The axis is the direction of the astigmatism which does not affect whether or not you can have laser eye surgery. In the above example this person is short sighted (1.50 Dioptres) and has astigmatism of 2.50 Dioptres.

What Do I Need To Know About Laser Eye Surgery & Astigmatism?

There are a few points to consider and they are as follows:

  • Both Lasek and Lasik can treat astigmatism and they have similar visual outcomes. Both can treat up to 6.00 dioptres of astigmatism, which means very few people will be beyond the treatable range. Less than 1% of the population will have astigmatism beyond 6 dioptres.
  • If you have high astigmatism (over 3 dioptres) then most surgeons will insist that you have wavefront laser eye surgery. This is because wavefront is more accurate which is especially important when treating high levels of astigmatism. For more information on Wavefront you can read the following: A guide to Wavefront correction.
  • The recovery period is exactly the same for treating astigmatism as it is for treating both long and short sightedness.
  • The cost of treating astigmatism is the same as treating long or short sightedness. Wavefront is more expensive however and your surgeon is likely to insist you have this if your astigmatism is higher than 3 dioptres. Read the following guide for more information on laser eye surgery pricing: How much does laser eye surgery cost?
  • The way in which the laser eye surgery procedure is carried out for astigmatism is exactly the same as it is for both long sightedness and short sightedness.

In summary, having astigmatism should not be a reason to put you off having laser eye surgery. The chances are that you will be suitable for the treatment and you will most likely end up with 20/20 vision following surgery. You can read more about astigmatism here.


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