Can LASIK eye surgery treat astigmatism?

Yes, LASIK eye surgery can treat most forms of astigmatism. 

One of the most widespread misconceptions about laser vision correction is that astigmatism cannot be treated with custom LASIK laser eye surgery. Thousands of people may have been discouraged from achieving clear vision due to this false information. Laser-assisted in Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) is the most common procedure for correcting nearsightedness (myopia) and astigmatism. When patients come to Brinton Vision in St. Louis, this is something we often hear. It’s a shame because this isn’t true at all, and many could have been experiencing the gift of improved vision if they had known that LASIK eye surgery, in fact, corrects astigmatism.

What is an Astigmatism?

An imperfection in the cornea’s curvature is known as astigmatism. However, some eyes are more curved than others. No human eye is flawless. The human eye is less of a perfect sphere and more of an oblong shape. We frequently compare the shape of an ideal cornea to that of a baseball and the shape of an astigmatic cornea to that of a football.

diagram of astigmatism

One is said to have a steep or strong astigmatism when the cylinder-shaped curve in front of the eye is particularly noticeable. The distortion of light entering the eye as a result of this frequently causes refractive errors, also known as aberrations. In other words, the light is transmitted to the wrong area of the eye instead of being bent toward the retina. Patients often experience signs and symptoms of astigmatism such as blurred vision, eye strain, headaches, squinting, and difficulty with night vision. The only options to improve visual acuity in the past were to wear glasses or unique contact lenses called toric lenses that compensated for the refractive error.

How LASIK Technology Has Evolved To Now Correct Treat Astigmatism

In the past, when LASIK’s earlier versions were practiced, individuals with severe astigmatism were ineligible for laser eye surgery. The high astigmatism’s bent anatomy made it impossible to treat astigmatism with surgery according to past standards.

Thankfully, LASIK surgery technology has progressed a long way, and things are very different now. Because astigmatism affects so many people, scientists have worked hard to develop treatments for those who have nearsightedness, far-sightedness, and astigmatism with remarkable success rates. Modern excimer lasers not only give LASIK surgeons more options for treating patients with minor to moderate astigmatism, but also brand-new procedures like SMILE, implantable contact lenses (EVO ICL), custom lens replacement (previously called refractive lens exchange, or RLE), and advanced surface ablation (ASA/advanced PRK) were created specifically with astigmatism in mind.

Brinton Vision, an Innovator in Treating Astigmatism

We take great satisfaction in the fact that Brinton Vision was among the first practices in the United States to conduct several of these LASIK treatments and to make the technological investments necessary to make them all available to patients. Knowing that our eye doctors can assist individuals who had little chance of ever being able to see effectively without glasses or contact lenses makes us feel extremely satisfied.

Are you ready to go contacts-free?

More FAQ’s about Can LASIK Treat Astigmatism

What is the astigmatism limit for LASIK?

Your eyes must meet specific requirements in order to be a candidate for LASIK.

For laser eye surgery, the typical refractive prescription that qualifies is:

  • Up to -8.0 diopters of nearsightedness
  • Up to a -3.0 diopter astigmatism
  • Up to -9.0 diopter nearsightedness with astigmatism

This may vary from person to person so a LASIK evaluation is required to evaluate your eye health and determine your eligibility for the procedure. With the advanced technologies we utilize at Brinton Vision, we can usually treat patients who have significant levels of astigmatism. Schedule your comprehensive eye examination with us to find out if you are a good candidate for LASIK.

Can astigmatism develop or reoccur after LASIK?

Astigmatism can develop after LASIK surgery, despite the fact that more than 90% of patients who receive the procedure achieve 20/20 vision without any issues. After a LASIK procedure, astigmatism that still exists is known as residual astigmatism. It could happen as a result of incorrect preoperative measurements, improper corneal markings, posterior corneal curvature, or other surgical procedure errors.

Using a knowledgeable and experienced LASIK surgeon like those at Brinton Vision greatly reduces the risk of astigmatism following LASIK surgery.

How do you permanently cure astigmatism?

Astigmatism can only be permanently fixed through surgery to correct vision. However, whether surgery is the best option and which type of surgery, depends on your astigmatism type and degree, corneal thickness, age, and other eye diseases.

By altering the cornea’s shape, several laser refractive surgery procedures can treat astigmatism. They consist of:

  • LASIK –  a small flap is made in the epithelium (top layers of the cornea). This thin flap is then folded back for the excimer laser to reshape the tissue underneath. By reshaping the cornea vision is improved.
  • PRK –  the epithelium is completely removed to reach the corneal tissue instead of being folded or pulled aside, and it quickly regenerates.
  • SMILE – during this refractive eye surgery, a small incision is used to remove a precisely shaped piece of corneal tissue while leaving the epithelium intact.

Can astigmatism be corrected if you aren’t a candidate for laser surgery?

If you have thin corneas, other eye conditions, or are not a candidate for laser surgery, you still have options to improve visual perception and correct astigmatism. These consist of:

  • Cataract Surgery with Lens Replacement – the natural lens is replaced with a toric lens during cataract surgery which provides astigmatism correction.
  • Custom Lens Replacement Surgery – formerly known as Refractive lens exchange, the procedure is similar to cataract surgery, where the natural lens is replaced with an implantable collamer lens, except that it corrects refractive errors and is used to improve vision rather than treating cataracts.
  • Lens implants – intraocular lenses (IOL) are inserted above or behind the iris, just like contact lenses, so that the natural lens of the eye remains in place.

For patients who can attain clear vision with glasses or contacts, lens implants and lens exchanges are typically not advised because they are substantially more invasive than laser refractive surgeries.

What makes astigmatism worse?

Age frequently makes astigmatism worse. As your eyelids lose muscular tone, pressure from them may cause your cornea to become more irregular.

Up until the age of 50, astigmatism usually remains steady. After that, your lens curvature becomes progressively worse every ten years. As you age, your condition will alter because the curvature of your cornea and lenses varies over time.

Occasionally, astigmatism worsens over time for no apparent reason. In other instances, you might experience a worsening of your astigmatism when you actually have another eye condition such as dry eye syndrome.

For instance, keratoconus, a rare complication of astigmatism that is brought on by a cornea with a narrow, pyramidal form, can aggravate severe astigmatism. Your cornea’s irregular shape can interfere with your eye’s ability to focus light on the retina, which can cause blurry vision.

Fortunately, for patients who undergo LASIK surgery at Brinton Vision the risk is low of experiencing worsening astigmatism. If you’d like more information about curing astigmatism with a LASIK treatment at Brinton Vision, call our office to schedule your Brinton Vision Ocular Analysis today.

Are there Types of Astigmatism that LASIK Can’t Fix?

The majority of patients who are good candidates for LASIK will be able to move forward with laser eye surgery for astigmatism. However, while LASIK surgery can effectively repair the majority of astigmatism types, there are a handful that cannot. For instance, irregular astigmatism might not be treatable with LASIK.

Our highly trained specialists at Brinton Vision will assess your eyes during your LASIK consultation and determine if you are an ideal candidate for laser vision correction with astigmatism.

Will Insurance Cover the Cost of LASIK for Astigmatism?

The cost of LASIK surgery for astigmatism is seen by insurance plans as an “elective treatment,” regardless of how necessary the procedure is. We know that visual freedom is never considered an elective procedure by our patients, and, therefore, we work to make LASIK as affordable as possible. We accept cash, checks, credit cards, and other common payment methods at Brinton Vision, and we can also work with health savings accounts (HSAs) and medical savings accounts (MSAs). Tax deductions are possible for most laser vision correction procedures. We also work with multiple financing companies to provide monthly payment options to fit most budgets.

How Long Will it Take to Recover after Getting LASIK for my Astigmatism?

Although the majority of people who get LASIK for astigmatism immediately notice a difference, it typically takes your eyes three to six months to fully recover and heal.

It’s crucial to closely adhere to your surgeon’s post-LASIK recommendations during the healing process in order to ensure a safe and complete recovery and to avoid any unanticipated issues or surgical complications.

You always have options, and the staff at Brinton Vision is here to help, even if there are some types of astigmatism that LASIK cannot correct. Call us right away to schedule your appointment with a highly qualified LASIK expert and determine if LASIK is the best option for you. Making an appointment for a Brinton Vision Ocular Analysis (BVOA) is the first step in determining whether you are a candidate for LASIK in St. Louis or for any of its six contemporary versions. For additional information and to schedule your BVOA online, go to or dial 314.375.2020. We welcome the opportunity to address any questions you may have and look forward to accompanying you on your path to visual freedom and life without corrective lenses.

Read the next article in this series: Can Diabetes Cause Astigmatism?

Dr. Jason P. Brinton is an internationally recognized specialist in the field of LASIK and refractive surgery. He is a graduate of Harvard College, earned his medical doctorate from the Harvard Medical School and is board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology.