This is a common question that many patients have when they are beginning to research whether or not they are a candidate for LASIK. Astigmatism is a commonly misunderstood term; but in reality, it is a type of refractive error similar to farsightedness or nearsightedness. Astigmatism is actually the most common type of prescription found when determining the power someone needs in their glasses or contact lenses. It simply means a person’s vision correcting prescription has two components rather than one; so there is a segment of the prescription that is stronger than the rest.
For most people with astigmatism, they will likely still be a candidate for laser vision correction (LASIK or PRK). However, the technology available at our facility is what truly differentiates Providence Eye & Laser Specialists and allows us to treat astigmatism effectively. We commonly see that a person with astigmatism is not a candidate at another facility, but is clearly a great candidate with our available lasers.
There are more factors in determining whether someone can have surgery than just their prescription. In the majority of cases, a person with astigmatism has it due to the shape of their cornea, namely that it is steeper or flatter in one direction. At Providence Eye & Laser Specialists, we utilize a corneal mapping device called the Pentacam that provides a 3-dimensional image of the cornea showing its shape, thickness, and structural integrity. With this information it can be determined if a patient with astigmatism will be able to safely have laser vision correction. Most patients with astigmatism have a corneal shape that is normal for their prescription and laser vision correction can safely be performed.
There are some corneal diseases, such as keratoconus, that can cause a patient to have astigmatism because the overall health of the cornea is abnormal. Keratoconus causes a gradual weakening of the corneal tissue that causes a person to develop larger amounts of astigmatism over time. It is in this instance that a person with astigmatism would not be a good candidate for laser vision correction. Our extensive experience and Dr. Mozayeni’s expertise as a fellowship trained cornea specialist is critical to ensure you are a good candidate in this regard and that you are NOT one of the rare people with keratoconus.
If you have astigmatism and have wondered whether or not you are able to have LASIK, contact our office and schedule a free consultation. As part of our thorough examination, we will utilize the Pentacam and image your cornea. Following the examination, Dr. Mozayeni will sit down with you, review the results and give you his recommendations for the best outcome. We look forward to meeting you and helping you with your vision needs!