Laser Eye Surgery For Astigmatism
Astigmatism is an extremely common eye condition affecting millions of people worldwide. It causes blurred and distorted vision, as well as headaches and eye strain.
Whilst glasses or contact lenses are usually prescribed to treat astigmatism, laser eye surgery is preferred by many as it permanently corrects your astigmatism while eliminating the need to wear visual aids.
The cost of laser eye surgery for astigmatism can start from as little as £595 per eye. Fill in the form above to compare prices from top laser eye surgery clinics in your area.
What Is Astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a common type of refractive error that causes blurred vision. It occurs when the cornea (the clear ‘window’ at the front of the eye) changes shape from a naturally smooth sphere, to a skewed oval shape.
This irregular shape means that light entering the eye cannot be properly focused onto the retina, a thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye that allows us to see clearly.
When this occurs, it causes our vision to become distorted. Astigmatism affects millions of people worldwide of all ages, who often also suffer from a related eye condition, such as myopia (short-sightedness) or hyperopia (long-sightedness).
There are two main types of astigmatism: regular astigmatism and irregular astigmatism.
- Regular astigmatism: this is the most common type of astigmatism, and refers to when the cornea is more curved in one direction than the other.
- Irregular astigmatism: this refers to when the cornea’s curvature isn’t even across the surface of the eye. Instead of being more curved in just one direction, it can be curved in several different directions.
What Causes Astigmatism?
Astigmatism is caused when the eye’s cornea is not perfectly curved, causing it to have an abnormal ‘rugby ball’ shape. This corneal defect is usually present from birth, but it is unknown why. It is believed that genetics might play a role, however. Astigmatism can also occur later in life as a result of:
- trauma to the eye
- a complication from eye surgery
- other eye diseases, such as keratoconus
- conditions that affect the eyelids
Astigmatism can cause a range of different symptoms which often vary from person to person, although some individuals do not experience any symptoms at all. Common symptoms of astigmatism include:
- Blurry or fuzzy vision at both long and short distances
- Eye strain and tiredness, particularly when doing tasks that require you to focus for a prolonged period of time
- Headaches and eye irritation
- Squinting when reading or looking at objects
- Difficulty seeing at night
If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should make an appointment to see your optician. They will be able to determine if you have astigmatism, and will talk you through how best to treat the condition.
Astigmatism is diagnosed following a routine eye test carried out by an optometrist. Since astigmatism is usually present at birth, it is important that your child has regular eye exams. Failure to diagnose astigmatism can result in a lazy eye, and difficulty reading and concentrating at school. It is recommended that your child has their first eye exam by the age of 3, and then once every year until the age of 16.
If your optometrist suspects that you or your child might have astigmatism, they will carry out further tests. The two most commonly used tests are:
- Visual acuity test: this test determines your ability to focus on objects at varying distances. This typically involves reading letters off a Snellen chart, in which the letters get progressively smaller on each consecutive line of the chart from top to bottom.
- Keratometer test: this test uses a device known as a keratometer, which measures the degree of corneal astigmatism. It does this by examining how the cornea is focussing light entering the eye, enabling the optometrist to detect irregularities in the cornea’s curve.
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How To Treat Astigmatism
For many people, their astigmatism is often so mild that they do not need treatment to correct their vision. If your astigmatism is significantly affecting your ability to see clearly however, you will be prescribed glasses or contact lenses by your optometrist to correct your eyesight.
An alternative treatment for astigmatism is laser eye surgery. This treatment uses a specialist laser to correct the curvature of your cornea by removing tiny amounts of its tissue. Because laser eye surgery makes permanent changes to the shape of your cornea, it means that you no longer have to rely on glasses or contact lenses to see clearly. If you want to have laser eye surgery to correct your astigmatism, you should book a consultation with an ophthalmic surgeon. These are free at most well-known ophthalmic clinics in the UK. More information about laser eye surgery for astigmatism can be found below.
Laser Eye Surgery
Laser eye surgery is an extremely quick procedure, taking approximately 15 minutes to perform per eye. Astigmatism can be corrected using several different types of laser eye surgery, but the procedure that is right for you will be determined by an ophthalmic surgeon following a series of tests on your eyes.
The following types of laser eye surgery can be used to treat astigmatism:
- LASIK: a small hinged flap is created on your cornea using a hand-held instrument known as a microkeratome. This flap is then peeled back to expose the underlying corneal tissue, before a laser is used to remove parts of the tissue to reshape your cornea. The flap is then unfolded back into position.
- PRK: unlike LASIK, a small flap is not created on the cornea. Instead, the very outer layer of your cornea (known as the epithelium) is completely removed to reveal the corneal tissue below. This is then reshaped using a laser. After surgery, the epithelium naturally grows back within a few days.
- LASEK: like with PRK, a hinged flap is not created. Instead, the epithelium is loosened and pushed to one side to expose the corneal tissue below. A laser is then used to remove some of the tissue to change the shape of your cornea, before the epithelium is put back into position.
- IntraLASIK: this procedure is similar to LASIK, except the flap on your cornea is created using a laser rather than a hand-held tool. The flap is then peeled back and a laser is used to reshape the corneal tissue below. Once this is completed, the flap is placed back into position on the surface of your cornea.
- EpiLASIK: this procedure is very similar to LASEK, except a blunt plastic blade is used to separate the epithelium from the eye whilst a laser is used to reshape the cornea. The epithelium is then put back onto your cornea.
How Much Does It Cost?
The cost of laser eye surgery for astigmatism varies depending on:
- the type of laser eye surgery you have
- the severity of your astigmatism
- the clinic you choose
- the experience of your ophthalmic surgeon
We have produced a guide on how much you should expect to pay for laser eye surgery based on prices quoted by some of the best ophthalmic surgeons in the UK:
|Laser Eye Surgery Type||Starting Price (Per Eye)|
The cost of laser eye surgery is significantly more than the cost of prescription glasses or contact lenses. These represent an on-going expense however, as they need to be continually repurchased to treat your astigmatism. On the other hand, laser eye surgery offers a permanent solution for the correction of astigmatism, and so only requires a one-off payment. This means that over time laser eye surgery is the more cost effective option.
Are There Any Finance Options?
If you cannot afford to pay for laser eye surgery, most clinics offer finance options to make the treatment more affordable by spreading the cost into manageable monthly payments. Below we have provided some examples of the finance options offered by ophthalmic clinics in the UK over 12 and 24 months. Finance options are also available over 10, 18, 36, 48, 60 and 72 months.
|Laser Eye Surgery Type||Deposit||12 Months||24 Months|
|LASIK||£100||0% APR at£50 per month||11.5% APR at £36 per month|
|PRK||£110||0% APR at£75 per month||11.5% APR at£35 per month|
|LASEK||£100||0% APR at£50 per month||11.5% APR at£25 per month|
|IntraLASIK||£100||0% APR at£70 per month||11.5% APR at£32 per month|
|EpiLASIK||£500||0% APR at£150 per month||11.5% APR at£75 per month|
As you can see, you will need to pay an upfront deposit which is often around £500 per eye (although it can be less). This is followed by monthly instalments at a fixed interest rate (APR) over a pre-agreed number of months. Be aware however that the longer your payback period, the higher the APR usually is. This means that you will end up paying back more money for your surgery. For more information about purchasing laser eye surgery on finance, visit our laser eye surgery cost page.
Is Laser Eye Surgery For Astigmatism Available On The NHS?
The NHS do not provide laser eye surgery to correct your astigmatism. This is because it is considered a non-essential medical treatment and other methods are available that can successfully correct your astigmatism, such as prescription glasses or contact lenses. This means that you will have to pay for your laser eye surgery yourself. Laser eye surgery is only available on the NHS in rare cases where a patient is at a serious risk of losing their sight if they do not have laser treatment, or if a previous eye surgery has caused their vision to deteriorate.