Astigmatism is a very common eye disorder that causes blurry vision for millions of Americans. It tends to run in families and affects both near and far vision. It’s not a disease. Rather, it’s a refractive error that occurs when the light your eyes use to transmit visual images to your brain doesn’t focus correctly on your retinae. This results in the blurry or distorted vision associated with astigmatism.
The good news is this: LASIK can, in most cases, fully and permanently correct an astigmatism and free you from the need for eyeglasses or contacts.
Understanding vision and astigmatism
Vision requires light, which bounces off an object in your visual field and passes through your cornea at the front part of your eye. The light then moves through your pupil to the lens, which focuses the light and transmits it to the retina at the back of your eye. Specialized cells (photoreceptors) in your retina transform the light into electrochemical signals your brain can understand and interpret.
That’s a simplified version of what takes place, but each part of the process is closely connected to the one before. In the case of astigmatism, it all starts with your cornea.
For crisp, clear vision, your cornea should be roundly curved, like a ping-pong ball, to bend (refract) light correctly. If you have astigmatism, your cornea is more oblong than round. This causes the light entering your eyes to miss its center target on your retina, and that results in blurred images.
Symptoms of astigmatism
Astigmatism is typically diagnosed in childhood but may come as a surprise since young children often aren’t aware their vision is poor. They just figure everyone sees that way.
Symptoms may include:
- Blurred or distorted vision
- Eye discomfort and strain
- Poor night vision
- Frequent squinting
You might have astigmatism alone or it may occur along with other refractive errors, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness.
Correcting astigmatism with LASIK
LASIK (laser in-situ keratomileusis) is a surgical procedure that our surgical expert at Charleston Cornea & Refractive Surgery, Dr. David O’Day, performs. He uses lasers for the surgery to correct refractive errors such as astigmatism by very precisely reshaping the curvature of your cornea so that it refracts light appropriately.
Corneal imperfections vary greatly from patient to patient and even from eye to eye. Dr. O’Day customizes your LASIK procedure by using the advanced Zyoptix® laser system to create 3-D digital images of your inner and outer cornea. This provides a detailed map of the unique issues affecting your vision, serves as a guide for the laser during your surgery, and greatly improves outcomes and patient satisfaction following LASIK.
The LASIK experience
Before scheduling your surgery, you can expect a thorough eye exam and lengthy discussion regarding LASIK and what occurs during and after the procedure. You also receive instructions about how to care for your eyes following LASIK, which may include skipping eye makeup and not rubbing your eyes or otherwise applying undue pressure to your eyelids for about a week.
In general, LASIK is a quick outpatient procedure Dr. O’Day performs right here at Charleston Cornea & Refractive Surgery. Bring along someone to drive you home afterward since you may experience irritation and blurred vision for a few hours following the procedure.
Be sure to keep your postoperative follow-up appointments as scheduled so that Dr. O’Day can monitor your healing and check your vision. And we always encourage our patients to call anytime with any questions or concerns following LASIK.
If you’re tired of using eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct your astigmatism, schedule a consultation at Charleston Cornea & Refractive Surgery to discover what LASIK can do for you.