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Astigmatism Correction

Astigmatism issues with Lasik, Bladeless Lasik, PRK, LASEK, Epi-Lasik, P-IOL, RLE, etc..

Diagram of light affected by astigmatism entering the eye.  
Astigmatism means the cornea is not spherical, like the top of a ball, but is elliptical, like the back of a spoon. Astigmatism is a corneal irregularity that causes multiple focal points and distorts vision.  

Conventional or custom wavefront  Lasik Bladeless Lasik, PRK, LASEK,and Epi-Lasik, can correct astigmatism. Most refractive surgeons consider it much more difficult to correct astigmatism than myopia (nearsighted, shortsighted) or hyperopia (farsighted, longsighted). As a very general rule, if your astigmatism is more than half your sphere, then the probably of a good outcome is diminished. If your astigmatism is more than 2.00 diopters, your probably of a good outcome is significantly diminished.

Lens Based Limitations

Lens based refractive surgery procedures like P-IOL and RLE do not correct astigmatism well, however RLE can correct lenticular astigmatism. Although toric intraocular lenses (IOL) are available, placement and rotation issues make astigmatic correction difficult.

The amount and type of astigmatism that can be corrected will depend upon many factors. Lasers are approved by the FDA for specific levels of astigmatic correction. More than the laser, the physiological features of your eye will determine if your astigmatism can be corrected with refractive surgery. Issues such as thickness of cornea, pupil size, plus type and amount of astigmatism will all be important considerations.

Indirectly Correct Astigmatism

P-IOL, and RLE do not directly correct astigmatism, however a minor amount of astigmatism can be corrected as a part of the surgical process of correcting myopia or hyperopia. P-IOLs available in the US do not correct astigmatism, but the incision through which the P-IOL is placed inside the eye can be manipulated to reduce preexisting astigmatism. Equally, the incision created during RLE through which the IOL is placed inside the eye can be manipulated to reduce preexisting astigmatism.

Laser Coupling Effect

Something important to remember is that with most laser assisted astigmatic refractive surgery techniques, for each diopter of astigmatism that is corrected, a certain amount of myopia is also automatically corrected - even if you don't need the myopia correction. This coupling of myopic correction and astigmatic correction is consistent with virtually all excimer lasers.

As an example, let us assume that for every one diopter of astigmatic correction the technique also corrects 0.25 diopter of myopia. If you have 2.00 diopters of astigmatism, you will receive 0.50 diopters of myopia correction (0.25 diopters of automatic myopia correction multiplied by the 2.00 diopters of astigmatism to be corrected) even if you do not need the myopia correction. If you have more than 0.50 diopters of myopia, a 2.00 diopter astigmatic correction should not be a problem with this technique. If you are plano then after surgery you would be 0.50 diopters hyperopic - not a desirable outcome.

Different Astigmatism Types

Irregular astigmatism is very, very difficult to correct and some techniques and technology cannot fully correct an irregular astigmatism at this time. Every person with irregular astigmatism is unique and needs to be individually evaluated.

Lenticular astigmatism is when the irregularity is in the natural crystalline lens, rather than in the cornea. RLE will eliminate lenticular astigmatism. Cornea-based surgery techniques conventional and wavefront Lasik, Bladeless Lasik, PRK, LASEK, and Epi-Lasik can correct lenticular astigmatism's effects, but making a reverse of the lenticular astigmatism in the cornea. While this can be a successful technique of lenticular astigmatism correction, there is a significant concern.

As we age the natural lens of the eye becomes clouded. This is called a cataract. The process to resolve a cataract is to remove the natural lens and replace it with an artificial lens. The problem is that the artificial lens will not have the pre-existing lenticular astigmatism and if the cornea has been reshaped to accommodate the lenticular astigmatism, the cornea will now cause an irregular astigmatism.

Discuss in detail with your doctor the type and amount of astigmatism you have and how it may be accommodated with refractive surgery. Discuss if the technology and techniques s/he intends to use may affect myopic correction and how this may be accommodated for your individual needs.

Looking For Best Lasik Surgeon?

If you are ready to choose a doctor to be evaluated for conventional or custom wavefront Lasik, Bladeless Lasik, PRK, or any refractive surgery procedure, we recommend you consider a doctor who has been evaluated and certified by the USAEyes nonprofit organization. Locate a USAEyes Evaluated & Certified Lasik Doctor.

Personalized Answers

If this article did not fully answer your questions, use our free Ask Lasik Expert patient forum.

Recent Astigmatism Island Medical Journal Articles...

Related Articles

[Clinical analysis of real-time iris recognition guided LASIK with femtosecond laser flap creation for myopic astigmatism].

Zhonghua Yan Ke Za Zhi. 2013 Aug;49(8):711-5

Authors: Jie LM, Wang Q, Zheng L

OBJECTIVE: To assess the safety, efficacy, stability and changes in cylindrical degree and axis after real-time iris recognition guided LASIK with femtosecond laser flap creation for the correction of myopic astigmatism.
METHODS: Retrospective case series. This observational case study comprised 136 patients (249 eyes) with myopic astigmatism in a 6-month trial. Patients were divided into 3 groups according to the pre-operative cylindrical degree: Group 1, -0.75 to -1.25 D, 106 eyes;Group 2, -1.50 to -2.25 D, 89 eyes and Group 3, -2.50 to -5.00 D, 54 eyes. They were also grouped by pre-operative astigmatism axis:Group A, with the rule astigmatism (WTRA), 156 eyes; Group B, against the rule astigmatism (ATRA), 64 eyes;Group C, oblique axis astigmatism, 29 eyes. After femtosecond laser flap created, real-time iris recognized excimer ablation was performed. The naked visual acuity, the best-corrected visual acuity, the degree and axis of astigmatism were analyzed and compared at 1, 3 and 6 months postoperatively.
RESULTS: Static iris recognition detected that eye cyclotorsional misalignment was 2.37° ± 2.16°, dynamic iris recognition detected that the intraoperative cyclotorsional misalignment range was 0-4.3°. Six months after operation, the naked visual acuity was 0.5 or better in 100% cases. No eye lost ≥ 1 line of best spectacle-corrected visual acuity (BSCVA). Six months after operation, the naked vision of 227 eyes surpassed the BSCVA, and 87 eyes gained 1 line of BSCVA. The degree of astigmatism decreased from (-1.72 ± 0.77) D (pre-operation) to (-0.29 ± 0.25) D (post-operation). Six months after operation, WTRA from 157 eyes (pre-operation) decreased to 43 eyes (post-operation), ATRA from 63 eyes (pre-operation) decreased to 28 eyes (post-operation), oblique astigmatism increased from 29 eyes to 34 eyes and 144 eyes became non-astigmatism.
CONCLUSIONS: The real-time iris recognition guided LASIK with femtosecond laser flap creation can compensate deviation from eye cyclotorsion, decrease iatrogenic astigmatism, and provides more precise treatment for the degree and axis of astigmatism .It is an effective and safe procedure for the treatment of myopic astigmatism.

PMID: 24246810 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


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