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.
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.
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.
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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