Can LASIK Help Astigmatism? [A Real Patient Story]
LASIK has been around since the 1970s. However, it hasn’t been until the past decade or so that it’s become effective for people with astigmatism. Advancements in technology and medicine allow ophthalmologists to perform LASIK on patients with astigmatisms, giving patients a new lease on life.
We sat down with our patient Christie to hear about her journey with astigmatism and learn about how LASIK helped correct it. Astigmatism is the irregular curve of the lens or cornea that can cause your vision to be blurred and distorted. We walked Christie through the surgical process to help her see without the need of corrective lenses.
Can I get LASIK with astigmatism?
Until relatively recently, it was extremely difficult, if not impossible, for patients with astigmatism to get laser eye surgery.
Christie credits her newfound LASIK eligibility to advances in technology. Our team stays at the forefront of surgical treatments of the eye, allowing us to provide you with the clearest vision possible.
“I thought there would be more roadblocks for being eligible for LASIK,” Christie says. “I checked into LASIK about 10 years ago and I wasn’t a candidate then, and that was before my vision got as bad as it was before surgery. My cornea wasn’t thick enough for them to be able to do what they do but, with the way technology changed, they were able to reshape my cornea.”
What is astigmatism?
The American Academy of Ophthalmology defines astigmatism as “an imperfection in the curvature of your eye’s cornea or lens.” Imagine a regularly shaped eye as a basketball. An eye with astigmatism causes it to be shaped like a football. This irregular curve of the lens or cornea causes objects to appear distorted or blurry. The result is having to squint to see clearly.
Astigmatism is a refractive error and often goes hand-in-hand with other refractive issues such as farsightedness (hyperopia) and nearsightedness (myopia). While common, experts aren’t sure what actually causes astigmatism. It’s often present at birth, it can also be caused by an eye disease or following an eye injury.
Christie’s astigmatism was more severe than most people’s. She didn’t like wearing her extremely thick glasses, and even specially fitted contacts weren’t enough to help her consistently see clearly.
“It was terrible,” she recalls. “My prescription was -10. My astigmatism was probably about two times that of a person with regular astigmatism because it doubled throughout the years. I was severely nearsighted so everything had to be close to my face for me to read it or see it. I couldn’t see [at all] without my glasses or contacts.”
What can I expect during LASIK surgery?
Our team works to create a comfortable environment for all of our patients. We understand that any surgical procedure can be nerve-wracking. That’s why we work with you to ensure that everything goes smoothly and as quickly as possible.
In describing her LASIK procedure, Christie says, “It was way easier than I expected.” Dr. Bodenheimer explained what she should expect, but she was still nervous.
“But it really was a breeze,” she said. “It was nothing like I expected.”
In most cases, you can expect the procedure to last under 30 minutes. In Christie’s case, it required much more time due to her severe astigmatism. However, patients are given medicine to help with any anxiety they may experience.
“It was super easy,” she says. “They give you the medicine to help relax during your procedure and recommend you go home and sleep.”
For more about what to expect during your laser eye procedure, check out our blog What Happens During a LASIK Procedure?
How can LASIK help me?
Christie no longer wears contacts and only keeps her glasses with her while she is driving, just as a personal preference. However, she has already scheduled an eye enhancement so that she doesn’t have to worry about possibly wearing the glasses while driving.
It’s estimated that 95% of LASIK patients achieve 20/40 vision or better, and 85% achieve 20/20 vision. Your vision can still change as you get older. Fortunately, adjustments can be made years after your original surgery to address any changes.
You may have to pay more upfront for LASIK. However, patients often save hundreds of dollars every year since they no longer require new prescription glasses or contacts.
Christie is thrilled with her results and encourages others to get LASIK.
“Just do it,” she says. “If you’ve worn glasses or contacts for any amount of time, you have probably adjusted to that lifestyle and you might not remember what it’s like to be able to see without them. But you would be surprised by how much you can do without your glasses or contacts. You don’t realize how much they hold you back until you can see without them. It’s truly life-changing.”
LASIK has come a long way in the past decade with the ability to treat patients with astigmatism. This refractive error can make your vision distorted and blurry, and can require thick glasses and time-consuming contact lens fittings. But now we are able to treat astigmatism like any other LASIK procedure and help you see clearly without the need for corrective lenses.