Astigmatism is a condition that cannot be cured completely. But there are various treatments available to bring better clarity of vision for those suffering from the condition.
Astigmatism occurs due to an abnormality in the curvature of the cornea or the lens. The cornea and the lens are parts of the eyes that helps focus the light rays in the retina where visual images are formed.
Eyeglasses - Eyeglasses are the primary treatment for astigmatism. Special cylindrical eyeglasses that provide additional power to certain areas are used. They are easy to wear and carries no risk of an infection unlike contact lenses. Those who have presbyopia may require bifocal or progressive lenses.
Contact lenses- Standard soft contact lenses cannot correct astigmatism. Special toric lenses are necessary to correct astigmatism. Contact lenses may offer a wider range of vision as compared to eyeglasses. Since these lenses are worn directly on the eyes, they require proper cleaning and changing to keep up the eye hygiene.
Orthokeratology- Orthokeratology, is a treatment modality, where special rigid contact lenses are used to alter the curvature of the cornea to normal levels. The lenses are used only for limited periods of time and the effect will be retained for a considerable period of time. The lenses are usually worn in the night which helps the wearer to go about his day activities without glasses. The problem with this type of treatment is that the effectiveness diminishes as soon as one stops wearing the lens in the nights.
Astigmatic keratotomy eye surgery or AK-In this type of eye surgery, one or two relieving incisions are made in the steepest part of the cornea. These relieving incisions help to make the cornea more rounded. This helps to improve the refractory power of the cornea, thereby helping correct astigmatism. Those who undergo astigmatic keratotomy, will have to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses for better clarity of vision. This type of surgery is very safe and well tolerated. The side effects if at all they happen are fluctuation of vision, weakening of the cornea, sensitivity to bright light etc.
Refractive surgeries-Astigmatism can be corrected with refractive surgeries. These surgeries aim to reshape portions of the cornea where the curvature is improper, to make it smooth and symmetrical. The helps to focus the images clearly on the retina. cornea.
Refractive surgery might be a good option for those
- Want to avoid using eyeglasses or contact lenses
- Who do not have a pre-existing eye disease
- Accept the risks and potential complications associated with the surgery
- Have an appropriate refractive error that can be corrected through surgery.
Certain persons may have to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses even after surgery for clearer vision. This fact should be thoroughly understood before taking a decision to undergo the surgery.
There are various types of refractive surgeries that are done to correct astigmatism
Laser- Assisted in-situ keratomileusis or LASIK
LASIK surgery for astigmatism not only offers a high rate of success but is also easy to undergo. The surgery is a minimally invasive one as it uses Lasers to correct the shape of the cornea. During the surgery a flap is created in the cornea to alter its shape and make it more rounded.
The reshaping of the cornea helps to properly focus the light on the retina. Lasik may also be done to correct other eye disorders like myopia or short-sightedness and hypermetropia or long sightedness.
The normal duration of a Lasik surgery is about an hour. Most of the patients feel very little or no pain during or after the surgery. There is no need for placing any sutures after the surgery. The effect of Lasik surgery can be felt within a day after surgery.
But certain complications like loss of vision or a deterioration of existing vision is also reported with Lasik surgery.
Some of the other side effects include
· increased glare,
· presence of a halo around images,
· dryness of the eyes
· difficulty in driving at night,
· sudden changes in vision etc.
Lasik surgery is not recommended for those with
· Thin corneas
· Very high refractive error
· An age below eighteen
Other surgeries for astigmatism are
• Laser-assisted sub-epithelial keratectomy (Lasek)- In Lasek, the outer epithelial covering of the cornea is loosened to reshape it with laser. The surgery takes about an hour for completion.
• Photorefractive keratectomy- In this surgery the epithelial portion of the cornea is surgically removed before correcting its shape. Once reshaped, the epithelium is allowed to grow back on the cornea naturally.
• Epi-Lasik- A refractory surgery almost similar to Lasek, but the corneal flap raised is thinner. The surgery is very effective for those with thin corneas, which is a contra-indication for Lasik.
Various alternative treatments are also offered for astigmatism. Ayurveda the ancient Indian system of medicine offers various treatment methods for correcting astigmatism. They include the use of medicinal herbs to specific ayurvedic treatments. There are some highly specialised ayurvedic hospitals for eye disorders in India, that offer various comprehensive treatments for astigmatism.