An astigmatic keratotomy is a form of eye surgery intended to correct astigmatism. There are two ways this surgery can be performed: as a laser procedure similar to LASIK, or in the form of limbal relaxing incision eye surgery. Read on to find out the basics about these two forms of astigmatic keratotomy.
What Is Astigmatism?
Before diving into the particulars of the two types of surgery, let’s start with the basics. Astigmatism is a condition that affects the curvature of the eye’s cornea or lens, which can cause blurry or distorted vision, eye discomfort, and headaches. Doctors have identified two forms of astigmatism:
- Corneal astigmatism occurs when the shape of a patient’s cornea is distorted.
- Lenticular astigmatism occurs when the shape of a patient’s lens is distorted.
Both forms of astigmatism are quite common. Patients can learn more about astigmatism and how it is corrected from Art of Optiks.
Limbal Relaxing Incision Surgery for Astigmatism
Eye surgeons have been performing what are known as limbal relaxing incision eye surgeries since the 1970s. This procedure is a safe and effective way to address astigmatism and can be used alongside other vision correction techniques. However, limbal relaxing incision surgery tends to induce mild discomfort for one to two days and can induce some concerning side effects and complications, which can include:
- A weakened cornea that is more vulnerable to rupture
- Fluctuating vision for the first several months following the procedure
- New or worsening light sensitivity
- Glare around lights, which can be permanent
- The potential for infections immediately following the procedure
All surgical procedures come with risks. In cases where patients want to deal with advanced astigmatism, the risks of limbal relaxing incision surgery may be outweighed by the benefits.
Laser Surgery for Astigmatism
LASIK, short for laser-assisted in situ keratomileuses, is a form of laser surgery that is commonly used to treat mild to moderate nearsightedness. In recent years, though, eye surgeons have found ways to use LASIK for astigmatism correction.
According to experts, laser surgery can effectively correct mild to moderate astigmatism by reshaping the cornea. Patients with irregular or severe astigmatism may not be good candidates for laser surgery, even if traditional LASIK surgery has been used to successfully correct nearsightedness in the past. These patients are usually better off combining LASIK treatments with traditional astigmatic keratotomy.
Laser surgery for astigmatism comes with many of the same side effects and risks as more traditional methods of addressing the disorder. Again, most patients find that the risk/benefit profile for laser astigmatism correction is acceptable. Those who are unwilling to accept the level of risk associated with this generally safe and effective procedure may want to stick with wearing eyeglasses or contacts.
Which Option Is Better?
Some people suffering from astigmatism will be better candidates for laser surgery, while others can benefit more from more traditional astigmatic keratotomy procedures. The only person who can determine a patient’s eligibility for either procedure is a specialized eye surgeon. Schedule a consultation with an eye surgeon who can explain the risks and benefits of both procedures, perform an exam to determine eligibility, and offer a professional opinion about whether either of them will be a good fit.
Schedule a Consultation
Ready to learn more about the different forms of traditional and laser-assisted astigmatic keratotomy? It’s time to schedule a consultation with an eye surgeon. Bring a list of questions and notes about medical history and be prepared to undergo a full exam before receiving recommendations.