North County Laser Eye Associates

What is astigmatism? – Carlsbad CA LASIK

What is astigmatism? – Carlsbad CA LASIK

Astigmatism is the most common vision problem. We see many patients with astigmatism here at our Carlsbad CA LASIK clinic. What is astigmatism, and what are the options for correcting it? Can patients with astigmatism have LASIK?

What is astigmatism?

The cornea is the clear covering on the front of the eye. A normal cornea has a spherical shape. As light passes through the cornea, this shape causes the light to be focused onto a point at the back of the eye. This allows objects to be seen clearly.

Refractive errors (vision problems) are caused by slight errors in the shape of the eye. For nearsightedness (myopia), the eye is longer than normal from front to back. For farsightedness (hyperopia), the opposite is true; the eye is too short. For both of these problems, the cornea is still spherical, but the eyeball itself is not quite the right shape.

However, for astigmatism, the problem is different. Instead of being spherical, the cornea of an eye with astigmatism is slightly oblong. This changes the way that light passes through the cornea. Instead of being focused on a single point in the back of the eye, the light is focused on two separate points. This results in blurry or double vision, instead of clear vision.

For some patients, astigmatism is the only vision problem. For others, astigmatism occurs along with myopia or hyperopia. In this case, both the corneal shape and the length of the eyeball are affected.

How can astigmatism be treated?

Like with most vision problems, one treatment for astigmatism is to use corrective lenses (glasses or contacts). You will need to visit a qualified vision doctor in order to get lenses that will successfully correct your vision. Over-the-counter glasses available at drugstores will not correct for astigmatism.

Although corrective lenses are effective for astigmatism, they must be worn every day to get the benefit. Many people find this to be a hassle, and would prefer another option. A more permanent treatment for astigmatism is laser eye surgery.

Although it was first developed for nearsighted and farsighted patients, LASIK can also be used successfully in patients with astigmatism. The laser reshapes the cornea to create a more spherical shape, so that light focuses on one point instead of two. A patient with both astigmatism and myopia or hyperopia can have both problems corrected during the same procedure.

If you’d like to learn more about astigmatism or LASIK, please contact our office to schedule a consultation at our Carlsbad CA LASIK office.