How to treat astigmatism

One of the most common visual errors we treat here at Optegra is astigmatism. This condition causes blurred or distorted vision, due to the cornea or lens not being a perfectly curved shape. This then causes refractive errors in the eye, which leads to objects appearing out of focus. Most people with astigmatism are also short or long sighted.


Types of astigmatism

Astigmatism is generally categorised into two main types, as follows:
  • Regular astigmatism is the more common of the two and occurs when the cornea is slightly more curved in one direction than the other.
  • Irregular astigmatism is less common, and often occurs as the result of an eye injury. This type of astigmatism occurs when the cornea is not curved evenly.  

Symptoms of astigmatism

The symptoms of astigmatism can vary from person to person, but things to look out for include:
  • Blurry or distorted vision, both at a close distance and with objects far away
  • Eye strain
  • Squinting
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness, especially after tasks such as reading or using a computer
  • Difficulty seeing clearly at night
For many people, the symptoms of astigmatism are mild, but if you start to notice problems, it’s important to find a solution to avoid symptoms becoming worse. The best way to catch astigmatism early is to ensure you have regular eye tests.

The underlying causes

Astigmatism is caused by an irregular shape of the lens or cornea, but what are the reasons behind these irregularities? In most cases, the root cause is genetic, and people are simply born with corneas which aren’t curved correctly for perfect vision. In some cases, astigmatism can be caused by an eye injury or surgical complication, and it can also develop later in life due to conditions such as keratoconus.
The development of astigmatism is often related to a number of factors. These include:
  • A family history of astigmatism or conditions such as keratoconus
  • A high degree of either short or long sightedness
  • Eye surgery for conditions such as cataracts
  • An eye injury, resulting in scarring or thinning of the cornea

How can astigmatism be treated?

Treatment may not be required for milder cases of astigmatism, but if the condition is causing problems, a number of options are available to correct it, including:
  • Glasses
  • Contact lenses
  • Laser eye surgery
  • Lens replacement surgery
More information about each option can be found below.


Glasses or contact lenses

The most common way to treat astigmatism is to reduce its impact with glasses or contact lenses, but this has a few down sides. Over the years, replacing glasses and lenses to keep up with changing prescriptions will become very expensive. Many people don’t like wearing glasses or lenses, or find that they often break or lose them. Contact lenses also have a risk of infection, and must be cleaned and changed regularly. For these reasons, more and more patients are opting for a long-term solution.
It’s also important to note that patients who are suffering from irregular astigmatism cannot be treated with glasses or lenses and will need to consider other options.


Laser eye surgery

Laser eye surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures in the world. The risk of complication is very low, at less than 4%, and the procedure is quick and painless. Almost all patients find they have reduced need for glasses and lenses after treatment. And, of course, the procedure is permanent.
During the course of the surgery, the shape of your cornea will be altered to correct the refraction problems caused by astigmatism. Here at Optegra, we offer LASIK, LASEK and SMILE laser eye surgery options. Different treatment methods vary slightly, so your surgeon will assess your suitability for laser eye surgery and will recommend the most appropriate treatment for you.


Lens replacement surgery

It’s also possible to treat astigmatism with lens replacement surgery, using a specially selected intraocular lens to correct the refractive error. At Optegra, our refractive lens exchange package is known as Clarivu. This innovative treatment can be used to correct visual errors including long-sightedness, short-sightedness and astigmatism, as well as to treat cataracts.

Next steps 

If you have astigmatism and would like to know more about your options for treatment, book a free consultation with one of our world class surgeons, or come to one of our open evenings to ask any questions you may have. We can’t wait to help you see more clearly!

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