What is astigmatism and how can it be corrected?

Astigmatism is a common eye condition that causes blurred vision at both near and far distances. It is estimated that 1.3 million Australians are affected by astigmatism, making it the third most common adult eye condition in the country (after long-sightedness and short-sightedness).

What causes astigmatism?

Astigmatism is caused by an ovalness in the curvature of the front of the eye, the cornea.  If you have astigmatism, your cornea is shaped more like an egg than a tennis ball and this affects the way light is refracted onto your retina and how an image is seen.  If you have an irregularly shaped cornea, the light doesn’t focus correctly on the retina and the image you see is blurred.

While most people with astigmatism are born with the condition, it can also be caused by injury, eye disease, or it can develop with age. Contrary to some misconceptions, it isn’t caused by reading in the dark or sitting too close to the television.

While astigmatism isn’t a serious condition, it can interfere with your day to day life by causing headaches, eye strain, squinting or difficulty seeing in the dark. These symptoms can affect your ability to work, read, study or take part in things you enjoy—such as watching the football, seeing your favourite band play or going to the theatre or cinema.

How is astigmatism diagnosed?

Astigmatism is diagnosed during an eye examination that looks at how your eyes are bending light. NewVision Clinics use a range of the latest tests including: spectacle refraction, manual keratometry, topography and Wave Scan technology. Dr Noel Alpins AM, the founder of NewVision Clinics, also developed the The Alpins Method of Astigmatism Analysis ASSORT®, a method that is now used to plan, develop and analyse laser eye surgery around the world.


LASIK treatment

While it is possible to treat astigmatism with glasses or contact lenses, laser eye surgery (LASIK) offers lasting results and eliminates the need for regular, expensive prescription updates. LASIK  is performed by a highly skilled ophthalmologist who cuts a tiny flap in the outer layer of the cornea to allow the laser to reshape the tissue underneath, before replacing the flap after surgery.

The operation is performed with a computer controlled excimer laser that uses pulses of ultraviolet light to change the shape of the cornea. In people with astigmatism, the operation will even out the curve of the cornea to make it more regular and round therefore improving your vision. Many people with astigmatism are also either nearsighted or farsighted and LASIK surgery can usually correct both conditions during the procedure.

Am I suitable for LASIK?

While LASIK is suitable for most astigmatism patients, those with very thin corneas or patients who are involved in high impact sport or work may prefer PRK laser treatment.

Unlike LASIK, PRK doesn’t require the creation of a flap. Instead the surgeon polishes away the top corneal layer before reshaping the surface with a laser and allowing the corneal epithelium  to grow back naturally. PRK works well for patients with a low degree of astigmatism. NewVision Clinics also offers PRK laser treatment as an alternative to LASIK.

The advanced expertise of the team means that NewVision Clinics can treat some complex cases that other clinics don’t have the skill to take on.

How much will it cost?

NewVision offers a range of affordable interest-free finance options and some of your treatments may be covered by your private health insurance. If you would like to know more about the affordability of laser eye surgery or what is covered by private health insurance, the NewVision Clinics team would be happy to answer your questions.

Contact them on 1800 20 20 20 to book a consultation at your nearest clinic and start your journey toward better vision today. Alternatively, please head to our online booking form to lock in a no-obligation consultation.