Astigmatism is a refractive error in which light entering the eye fails to come to a single focus on the retina to produce clear vision. Instead, light is focused onto multiple focus points, either in front of the retina, behind it or both, causing blurry or distorted vision.
If you have astigmatism, you have several treatment options to restore sharp eyesight. The team at Berks Eye Physicians and Surgeons can help you find the best option based on your vision needs and goals.
Most mild to moderate cases of astigmatism can be effectively treated with prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses. Glasses and contacts correct astigmatism by compensating for uneven curves in the irregularly shaped cornea and lens. Contact lenses for astigmatism are called Toric lenses.
Regular soft contact lenses that correct only myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness) are spherical and have the same power in all meridians of the lens. On the other hand, toric soft contact lenses have different powers in different meridians of the lens to correct the asymmetric power of the eye which is characteristic of astigmatism. Rigid gas permeable (GP) and hybrid contact lenses are also available for astigmatism. Each type of lens has its own sets of advantages and disadvantages.
For individuals who have astigmatism and wish to not rely on prescription eyewear, laser vision correction may be a solution. The most popular laser vision correction procedure for treating astigmatism is LASIK, which reshapes the cornea to improve the way the eye focuses light onto the retina. During the procedure, a thin flap is created on the surface of the cornea. The flap is folded back and an excimer laser reshapes the corneal tissue. To correct astigmatism, the laser reshapes the cornea so the front surface is more symmetrical. The flap is then laid back onto its original position where it heals itself over time.
LASIK is a quick and very safe procedure. Most patients achieve 20/20 vision or better.
Cataract surgery involves removing the natural lens of the eye that has become clouded with a cataract. The lens is replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL), restoring clear vision. A special type of IOL, called a Toric IOL, is designed specifically to correct astigmatism. Like Toric contact lenses, Toric IOLs have different powers in different meridians of the lens to correct the asymmetric power of the astigmatic eye.
Another way to correct astigmatism during cataract surgery is to perform a procedure called limbal relaxing incisions (LRI). During LRI, the surgeon creates one or more arc-shaped incisions near the periphery of the cornea in order to make it more spherical, in turn correcting astigmatism.
Contact Berks Eye Physicians and Surgeons
To learn more about your treatment options for astigmatism, schedule a personal consultation with one of our eye doctors. Call or email our office to speak to a member of our team.