There are two structures that are primarily responsible for your eye's ability to focus. The first is the cornea, which is the front surface of your eyeball, and the second is the lens, which is inside the eye, right behind the iris and pupil. Ideally, your cornea is perfectly round. However, if you have an astigmatism, your cornea is not symmetrical or perfectly round, which results in blurry vision.
Astigmatism can affect both adults and children. Individuals at a heightened risk of developing the condition include those with:
- A family history of astigmatism or other eye disorders
- A cornea that features scarring or thinning
- Blurry vision at a distance or up-close
- A history of eye surgery
- Blurred, distorted and sometimes double vision up close and at far distances
- Squinting and eye irritation
- Difficulty with night vision
- Eye strain and headaches
To confirm your diagnosis and begin planning your astigmatism treatment, Dr. Benjamin and his team will perform a series of tests. First, you can expect a standard vision examination, during which you will read the letters on an eye chart. You will then look through a phoropter (a large machine with lenses of varying strengths) so Dr. Benjamin can determine your prescription.
From there, Dr. Benjamin will measure the bend of your cornea and how well you can focus using a Pentacam corneal topography. He will then utilize corneal topography technology to collect thousands of tiny measurements as your eye focuses. A computer will use those measurements to build a color map of your cornea, which will guide surgery if Dr. Benjamin determines it's necessary for your astigmatism treatment.
Depending on the degree of your astigmatism, you will benefit from either corrective lenses or surgical intervention. If you have been diagnosed with a very slight form of the condition, you may not require any treatment at all.
Corrective lenses and contacts
Most mild astigmatism cases can be adequately corrected with the right glasses or contacts. With glasses, the lens compensates for your irregularly shaped cornea that's causing blurred vision. However, if you have a severe astigmatism, they may make the floors or walls appear slanted.
If you're diagnosed with a mild version of this condition and want to wear contacts, Dr. Benjamin may prescribe a special toric lens. These lenses are designed to bend light in a way that counteracts an irregularly shaped eye. If your condition is more severe, gas-permeable rigid contact lenses may be more suitable. During your appointment, Dr. Benjamin and his team will review all of these options with you and help you determine which one is in your best interest.
Laser eye surgery (LASIK) is a population option for astigmatism treatment that reshapes your cornea so it's able to focus better. To begin, Dr. Benjamin will numb your eye with drops before creating a thin flap on your cornea. Using a tiny tool, he will pull back the flap to access and carefully reshape your eye's central layers. Once the shape of your eye has been corrected, he will return the flap to its original position, where it will mold to the underlying cornea and serve as a natural bandage as the eye heals. In general, healing occurs very rapidly after LASIK eye surgery, with the recovery period typically lasting approximately 24 hours.
Although LASIK surgery is very effective in treating mild to moderate astigmatism, it is not the right option for every patient. To be considered a candidate for this procedure, you will need to be at least 18 years of age and possess good eye health. This means your eyes are free of scars and infections. Additionally, you'll need to stop wearing contacts for a few weeks prior to the procedure, as they can alter the shape of your cornea and interfere with the planning and execution of your surgery.
Follow-up eye appointments
Once you have completed your Los Angeles astigmatism treatment, it's important to maintain regular follow-up appointments at our Los Angeles office so he can monitor your condition. In general, we recommend having an examination annually, though Dr. Benjamin may suggest more or less frequent visits depending on your age, additional risk factors, whether or not you wear contacts to correct your astigmatism, and other eye conditions.