The ability of fixing astigmatism with lasik eye surgery has finally materialized. It did take many years of research and clinical testing to achieve this. In order to comprehend this journey and understand how elimination of astigmatism is possible we need to review some basics. We need to understand astigmatism, its manifestations as well as how lasers treat nearsightedness and astigmatism.
Astigmatism is a condition of the eye where the light beams reaching it come to focus at multiple points. In a perfect eye the beams should converge on a single point on the macula. This creates a crisp image. In an eye suffering from astigmatism disease the point is instead a blob and termed conoid of strum. In practical terms this means the image formed is blurry. The brain finds it difficult to interpret this unclear image. It sends signals to the eye muscles to change the focus to sharpen the image. This futile exercise leads to fatigue, headaches, and red eyes.
Astigmatism is caused when the horizontal and vertical curvatures of the eye are not similar. This shape imperfection could arise in the cornea (the clear front part of the eye) or the internal structures of the eye.
Until now identification of the source, the amount, and the exact spread of astigmatism has been a challenge. Recent advances in mapping the shape of the cornea and the wavefront of the eye has been a hallmark advance. Wavefront is the sum of all imperfections in the eye. It is best mapped by a device called iDesign wavescan studio. 1287 beams of light are sent into the eye. They travel through the eye to the retina and bounce back to a computerized detector. It rapidly analyses the shape and calculates the exact correction required along the 1287 zones to get a perfect shape. This information is saved on a flash drive. The flash drive transfers the information to the latest generation of lasers.
Older lasers were broad beam, that is each pulse could only treat an area of 6 mm. The latest cutting edge laser beams can be reduced to smaller zones of 1mm or less. The shape of the beam can also be matched to information obtained from the iDesign wavescan studio. These lasers are also able to detect any rotation in the eye, as well as track the eye during delivery of the beam. Hence they can treat vertical and horizontal planes differently.
Here is something probably you were not even aware of. What we have realized is that besides astigmatism there are other aberrations called higher order aberrations. The higher order aberrations are responsible for glare and fuzzy edges of objects. These cannot be corrected by glasses or older generation of lasers. The good news is that even they may be reduced by the new advanced technology. Therefore the incidence of night time glare and haloes are markedly reduced.
Corneal Topography guided laser technology like Catz from Nidek and Contoura from Alcon work similarly; however, they are only limited to mapping the cornea. iDesign by Johnson and Johnson maps the cornea and the internal eye abnormalities. All three of these are FDA approved technologies that have benefited consumers a lot.
The modern advanced iDesign wavefront laser technology is much better than glasses and contact lenses for patients suffering from astigmatism. The lasers can cure the astigmatism and give sharp vision.
If you have waited for technology to fix astigmatism the time has arrived. All the best.