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Does astigmatism prevent me from having LASIK surgery?

By Joel Hunter, MD

There was a time when the answer to this question was yes.

It happened to be a time when lots and lots of people were getting LASIK, it was new and exciting, and news about LASIK was all abuzz. So the word traveled far and wide to anyone who had any astigmatism, “LASIK doesn’t fix astigmatism!” And the word was good because that word was correct.

Then. The word was correct back then. Astigmatism was among the problems that LASIK couldn’t fix in those days (the late ‘90s and early 2000s). But LASIK from those days, much like cell phones from those days, looked a lot different than it does now. Some of those differences had nothing to do with astigmatism. Eye tracking was non-existent or rudimentary. Hyperopic (farsighted) treatments were impossible at first, then evolved into just being very mediocre. Laser treatments were done at a speed of anywhere between 6 and 15 pulses per second. It was a different time. A simpler time. Just not simpler in a good way.

LASIK is very good at fixing astigmatism now.

It’s not just that it can fix it. It’s better than that. Nowadays, if you’re a good candidate then it’s possible LASIK could fix your astigmatism even better than your glasses or contacts. The candidacy piece is key, though. With today’s diagnostic imaging, it’s possible to determine more accurately than ever who is a good candidate. And that brings with it the necessity of being honest with a greater amount of information available to us. We have machines that can find very slight abnormalities that may affect LASIK results because it doesn’t matter how good the laser is if someone shouldn’t be having LASIK.

The lasers are very good now though. So even with a much greater depth of analysis than we would have dreamed of 20 years ago, more people can have good results from LASIK than in those days. With modern laser, we have eye trackers that can track the eye faster than it can move, smooth treatments that can fix astigmatism and hyperopia, and treatment speeds of 500 pulses per second. It’s a much more complex time. And in this instance, it is more complex in a good way.

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These articles are brought to you by Hunter Vision. We help people in Orlando discover life after glasses and contacts.
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