What is Astigmatism? Is LASIK an Option to Treat Astigmatism?

Do you suffer from astigmatism? Wish you didn’t have to wear glasses or contacts? LASIK may be the option for you in order to drastically reduce or remove your dependency on prescription lenses.

What is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is an imperfection in the curvature of the cornea or natural lens inside the eye. “Regular” astigmatism is very common and a lot of people do not even realize that they have this. Lower amounts of astigmatism may be visually insignificant but higher amounts will cause permanently blurred vision that can require glasses or contacts to see clearly. It can accompany a variety of other refractive errors, such as myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness). Other eye diseases or traumatic injuries to the eye can create scarring on the cornea which will create “irregular” astigmatism and is much more difficult to treat (often requiring surgery or specialized contact lenses)

Types of Astigmatism:

  • Corneal Astigmatism: An imperfect spherical shape of the cornea that people are typically born with and progress with age
  • Lenticular Astigmatism: An imperfect spherical shape of the natural lens that will change as people develop cataracts. This could combine with Corneal Astigmatism for a more pronounced effect.
  • Irregular Astigmatism: Typically caused by an injury or infection to the eye that leads to scarring

Treatment Options for Astigmatism:

Most people who have visually significant astigmatism can be corrected with glasses or toric contact lenses. Irregular astigmatism often has to be treated with specialized contacts or surgical procedures such as a cornea transplant. For patients with visually significant astigmatism that can be corrected with glasses or toric contact lenses, there are surgical procedures that can cure their astigmatism so that they no longer have to wear corrective lenses. Some of these options are listed below.

  • PRK
  • Visian Toric ICL
  • Refractive Lens Exchange
  • Refractive Cataract Surgery


LASIK, or Laser-assisted in situ Keratomileusis, is a vision-correction procedure designed to correct myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. A superficial flap is created on the cornea which is lifted and the cornea is reshaped by an excimer laser. Then, the flap is repositioned to its original place for minimal scarring once it heals. All in all, the procedure takes around ten minutes to perform. Recovery from LASIK is generally quick and easy. Both eyes are treated on the same day, and functional return of vision typically only takes a few hours. No stitches or eye patches are required, and eye drops are used for one week following the procedure. Approximately 99% of patients are able to return to normal activities by the following morning.

Another option is PRK, or Photo-Refractive Keratectomy, which uses a similar procedure to reshape the cornea. This procedure is valuable for patients with corneas that are “too thin” for LASIK.

Some patients have too much prescription to safely be corrected with LASIK or PRK. A potential option for these patients is ICL, an implantable collamer lens, which can be surgically implanted into the eye to correct both nearsightedness and astigmatism.

Patients who are starting to become presbyopic in their 40s and 50s and have to rely on reading glasses or progressive/bifocal glasses and contact lenses make great candidates for the Refractive Lens Exchange procedure. This can correct myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia so that patients no longer have to wear corrective lenses or reading glasses.

Lastly, patients who have developed cataracts but have had to wear corrective glasses or contact lenses for astigmatism can have their vision corrected with Refractive Cataract Surgery. This procedure uses a toric lens implant or the LensX laser system to correct astigmatism and any refractive error as well as the cataract that has developed. This gives patients clear vision with out the need for glasses or contacts afterwards.

Next Steps:

The first step to take if you’re considering LASIK or another surgical procedure to remove your reliance on prescription lenses is to speak with your ophthalmologist about your options. A quick way to check your eligibility for LASIK is with this short, five question quiz. If you’re concerned about financing this surgery, check out these affordability options.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please visit please contact Dr. Salisbury today at https://salisbury-vision.com/contact/.