Q. My eye doctor told me that my vision is blurry because I have astigmatism; what does that mean?

A. Astigmatism is a term that means that the focusing elements of your eye (cornea and lens) are shaped more like a football than a spherical basketball. As a result of this asymmetry, light enters the eye being focused at different points instead of a single focused point. Most individuals with astigmatism are born with this asymmetry, and the most common way to compensate for astigmatism is through glasses that will neutralize this asymmetry. Glasses, or contacts, however, are uncomfortable or inconvenient for many, and if one wants to strengthen vision so as not to depend on glasses, Lasik , or one of the variations of Laser Vision Correction , is an excellent solution . The excimer laser corrects the problem by applying laser energy to the cornea in such a way as to neutralize the asymmetry and change the cornea from the football shape to a normal spherical basketball shape.

For individuals who are candidates for cataract surgery, an advanced “Toric” implant can be utilized during the procedure to also neutralize pre-existing astigmatism, and this technique can be an option for patients to improve their vision to the point of not needing glasses. Irregular astigmatism can also be a sign of a disease called keratoconus. Glasses or contacts often are not good options for this problem, but newer technologies such as Intra-corneal Ring Segments can make quite an improvement.