LASIK eye surgery can help with the more common kind of astigmatism, corneal astigmatism, within a certain range of refractive error.

For eligible candidates, it can provide a dramatic improvement in visual acuity, potentially allowing a person to achieve 20/20 vision (although this is not a guarantee, even for valid candidates).

What Does LASIK Do for Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a type of refractive error, a category of conditions in which light imperfectly refracts in the eye, causing blurriness in a person’s vision. This usually occurs because your cornea or lens is oddly shaped — more oval-like than round.

There are two types of astigmatism:

  • Corneal astigmatism: The cornea has a distorted shape, causing the refractive error.
  • Lenticular astigmatism: The eye’s lens is misshapen, causing the refractive error.

LASIK surgery works by surgically altering the shape of your cornea, so light can better refract and land on your retina. This is the key part of the eye that takes in light and sends the appropriate visual signals to your brain.

Because of the way LASIK works, it cannot generally correct lenticular astigmatism, which is less common than corneal astigmatism. LASIK can often effectively correct corneal astigmatism.

Who Is a Candidate for LASIK for Astigmatism?

To qualify for LASIK for astigmatism, you first need the right kind of astigmatism, corneal astigmatism. You then need to meet the standard criteria for LASIK.

woman with farsightednessA doctor will need to determine the level of astigmatism you have using a type of measurement called a diopter (D). The FDA has approved LASIK to treat -12D to +6D of cylinder error, which is how astigmatism is measured. This measurement is easy for a medical professional to get, only requiring a straightforward eye exam.

Other factors may exclude you from being a good LASIK candidate. These include the following:

  • Having unstable vision, with your prescription frequently changing
  • Having an autoimmune condition that increases your risk of surgical complications
  • Having thin corneas or otherwise weakened eyes, which can increase your risk of structural failure during surgery
  • Being under 18, as LASIK isn’t approved for minors

What to Expect With LASIK for Astigmatism

LASIK for astigmatism is the same procedure as general LASIK. The surgeon will map the topography of your cornea, determining how much to cut away to correct refractive errors, including your astigmatism.

During the procedure, your surgeon will cut a flap in your cornea in order to reshape the cornea below. Ultra-thin layers of your cornea are removed to correct your astigmatism along with any nearsightedness or farsightedness you have.

After the cornea is reshaped, the flap is put back in place. The entire surgery is fast and effective.

LASIK surgery is a p...

LASIK surgery is a permanent correction for problems caused by astigmatism. Here, surgeons remove a small amount of corneal tissue, so the curves of your eye match one another. The tissue that was removed does not grow back, so the changes made will stay with you for the rest of your life.

Success Rates of LASIK

LASIK surgery has a patient satisfaction rate of approximately 96%, which is significant. It is widely considered safe, by both the FDA and relevant experts in the field.

Despite its widespread acceptance and success rates, LASIK is still a form of eye surgery and has risks.

While there isn’t extensive data specific to LASIK used to treat astigmatism, these relevant statistics are worth noting:

  • Serious complications from LASIK are very rare, occurring in less than 1 percent of cases.
  • After surgery, over 98 percent of patients feel they achieved their goal with LASIK.
  • Postoperative symptoms, such as dry eye, are most common in the period immediately following LASIK. Most symptoms resolve within three to six months.

It’s important to note that the small percentage of patients who stated they were dissatisfied with the results of LASIK did not necessarily experience serious complications. A patient might have had unrealistic expectations for what LASIK might achieve, for example. In many cases, these patients would still have experienced a significant improvement in their vision as a result of the surgery.

Costs of LASIK Surgery for Astigmatism

LASIK usually costs between $1,000 and $4,000 per eye, and this price holds if LASIK is treating astigmatism or another refractive error. Highly custom treatments, such as those that use cutting-edge technology to map out the eye, can further increase costs.

LASIK is considered an elective treatment by insurance providers, meaning they often won’t cover the costs. Many vision insurance plans offer discount programs to offset the cost of LASIK under certain conditions.

If you cannot pay for LASIK outright, you could finance your treatment, with some plans available at highly competitive rates. If you choose to finance, always thoroughly review the terms of the financing agreement. Calculate what the total cost of the procedure will be through that plan compared to if you pay outright.

Financing Your LASIK Procedure

Financing Your LASIK Procedure

We believe every patient should have access to the life changing procedures NVISION® offers. Since LASIK is considered an elective medical procedure or advantageous to the patient but not urgent, it is typically not covered under insurance plans. Our financing options ensure that you are not held back by cost. Read on to learn more about CareCredit®, FSA/HSA, Insurance Discounts and other options.

Learn More about Financing Your LASIK Procedure

Recovery After Astigmatism Correction With LASIK

The aftercare recommendations for LASIK are the same regardless of the type of refractive error you had corrected. If you have LASIK to correct astigmatism, you can promote the healing process by following your surgeon’s aftercare instructions closely.

talking to eye doctorWhile most people return to most normal activities within a day or two of LASIK, full recovery usually takes between three and six months. At that point, a patient has generally achieved a stable level of vision and has no restrictions.

In the first few days of recovery from LASIK, medicated eye drops may be prescribed to reduce the risk of infection and inflammation. It is also common for a doctor to have a patient wear an eye guard to sleep for the first day or two of recovery, to protect the eye when it is most vulnerable.

After a few days and with the permission of your doctor, you can engage in most non-contact sports and physical activities. Contact sports, heavy physical labor, and swimming should be avoided for a few weeks.

It generally takes about a month for a person to heal enough that a doctor is comfortable allowing them to engage in the above activities. Even then, it is usually a good idea to wear protective eyewear. This can protect the flap and prevent it from being dislodged while it is healing.

Some blurriness is expected after LASIK. Since your astigmatism was corrected, you’ll likely have clearer vision immediately following surgery, but it will continue to improve and stabilize in the following weeks and months.

Astigmatism for LASIK FAQs

  • Can LASIK treat astigmatism?

    Astigmatism is a type of refractive error, which LASIK can generally treat within certain ranges. Your doctor will confirm if you are a good candidate for LASIK astigmatism correction.

    LASIK cannot treat the less common form of astigmatism, lenticular astigmatism, which is caused by a misshapen lens.

  • How long does LASIK last when used to treat astigmatism?

    LASIK is a permanent procedure, reshaping your eye and changing the way light is refracted into it. While your vision can worsen for other reasons, such as through the natural changes eyes undergo as we age, LASIK never “wears off.”

  • Is LASIK worth it if you have astigmatism?

    Generally, yes. LASIK can correct astigmatism along with other refractive errors and give you freedom from glasses or contacts. Most people enjoy clear vision after LASIK for astigmatism.

  • Is LASIK for astigmatism more expensive?

    Not necessarily but it depends. The cost of your LASIK will depend on many factors, such as the severity and complexity of your refractive errors, the experience of your surgeon, and the technology they use.

References

How Much Does LASIK Cost? (October 2021). Forbes.

LASIK — Laser Eye Surgery. (October 2020). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Refractive Eye Surgery: Helping Patients Make Informed Decisions About LASIK. (May 2017). American Family Physician.

What Is Astigmatism? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment. (February 2022). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Functional Outcome and Patient Satisfaction After Laser In Situ Keratomileusis for Correction of Myopia and Myopic Astigmatism. (January–March 2015). Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology.

What Should I Expect Before, During, And After Surgery? (July 2018). U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Complications of Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis. (July 2021). Indian Journal of Ophthalmology.

Functional Outcome and Patient Satisfaction After Laser In Situ Keratomileusis for Correction of Myopia and Myopic Astigmatism. (January–March 2015). Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology.

Post-LASIK Dry Eye. (August 2012). Expert Review of Ophthalmology.

Laser Surgery Recovery. (January 2017). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

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