Isaac Porter, MD explains that astigmatism is an uneven curvature of the eye that can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, LASIK, or cataract surgery with toric lens implants. Astigmatism is very common and many patients do not understand what it is. In this episode of A State of Sight, astigmatism is clearly defined in an understandable way.

Welcome to A State of Sight. I’m your host, Isaac Porter from Lowry Porter Ophthalmology and this is your update in ophthalmology and eye care, from Raleigh, NC.

This has been a special week for Raleigh since we just finished hosting the Internet Summit 2011, where the keynote speaker was Gary Vaynerchuk. We want to give a big thanks to Gary for inspiring us to start this video series, A State of Sight, based on his ideas in the book, Crush It.

Today, I will explain astigmatism. Many people have astigmatism and don’t quite understand what it is, it’s a big word and it sounds kind of scary when patients learn that they have it, but it is only a difference in curvature of the eye.

To illustrate this point, I took my dog Carter’s tennis ball and cut it up. He is a greyhound, and fortunately he doesn’t like to chase it very much. You can see the curvature on the tennis ball is the same in each direction. However, if I compress it, the curvature becomes more steep on one side and flatter on the other side.

This difference in curvature is an example of astigmatism, however, it’s an exaggeration. In most patients who have astigmatism, the difference in curvature would only be slight.

Fortunately, this can be corrected with glasses or with a toric contact lens. A toric lens is simply a lens that has a different curvature that can correct astigmatism.

We can also correct astigmatism more permanently using surgery. We can use the same laser that we perform LASIK with and during the LASIK treatment we can correct the astigmatism by smoothing out the curvature of the eye to make it more round.

At the time of cataract surgery, astigmatism can be treated with a toric lens implant. Once the cataract is removed, the artificial lens placed inside the eye has a different curvature in a particular direction which can correct the astigmatism at the same time the cataract is removed.

Limbal relaxing incisions (LRIs) are another procedure to correct astigmatism. These incisions on the surface of the eye through part of the thickness, allow the curvature to relax and change into a more round shape. LRIs are created with a very precise diamond blade. LRIs are not as accurate as LASIK or a toric lens implant but they can help reduce astigmatism.

Hopefully, you’ve learned that astigmatism is not a disease or something to be worried about, and that there are many solutions to treat astigmatism. If you have astigmatism or any questions about it please post below and we will be happy to have a conversation with you. Until next time, on A State of Sight, good health and good sight.