Treatments and drugsBy Mayo Clinic staff
The goal of treating astigmatism is to address the uneven curvature that's causing your blurred vision. Treatments include wearing corrective lenses and undergoing refractive surgery.
Wearing corrective lenses treats astigmatism by counteracting the uneven curvature of your cornea. Types of corrective lenses are:
- Eyeglasses. Eyeglasses can be made with special lenses that help compensate for the uneven shape of your eye. In addition to correcting astigmatism, eyeglasses can also correct for other refractive errors, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness.
Contact lenses. Like eyeglasses, contact lenses can correct astigmatism. A wide variety of contact lenses are available — hard, soft, extended wear, disposable, rigid gas permeable and bifocal. Ask your eye doctor about the pros and cons of each and which contact lenses might be best for you.
Contact lenses are also used in a procedure called orthokeratology, or Ortho-K. In orthokeratology, you wear rigid contact lenses for several hours a day until the curvature of your eye improves. Then, you wear the lenses less frequently to maintain the new shape. If you discontinue this treatment, your eyes return to their former shape. Wearing contact lenses for extended periods of time increases the risk of infection in the eye.
This astigmatism treatment method corrects the problem by reshaping the surface of your eye. Refractive surgery methods include:
- LASIK surgery. Laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) is a procedure in which a doctor uses an instrument called a keratome to make a thin, circular hinged cut into your cornea. Alternatively, this same cut can be made with a special cutting laser. The surgeon lifts the flap and then uses an excimer laser to sculpt the shape of the cornea under the flap. An excimer laser differs from other lasers in that it doesn't produce heat.
- Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). In PRK, your surgeon removes the outer protective layer of the cornea before using an excimer laser to change the curvature of the cornea.
- Laser-assisted subepithelial keratomileusis (LASEK). In this procedure, a much thinner layer of cornea is folded back, which makes your eye less vulnerable to damage should an injury occur. LASEK may be a better option if you have a thin cornea or if you're at high risk of an eye injury at work or from playing sports.
Radial keratotomy is a procedure that was used in the past to correct astigmatism. However, it's not commonly performed anymore.
- Mian SI. Visual impairment in adults: Refractive disorders and presbyopia. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 22, 2010.
- Astigmatism. American Optometric Association. http://www.aoa.org/x4698.xml. Accessed Nov. 21, 2010.
- Preferred practice pattern: Comprehensive adult medical eye evaluation. San Francisco, Calif.: American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://one.aao.org/ce/practiceguidelines/ppp_content.aspx?cid=64e9df91-dd10-4317-8142-6a87eee7f517. Accessed Nov. 21, 2010.
- Preferred practice pattern: Refractive errors and refractive surgery. San Francisco, Calif.: American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://one.aao.org/ce/practiceguidelines/ppp_content.aspx?cid=e6930284-2c41-48d5-afd2-631dec586286. Accessed Nov. 21, 2010.