Treating astigmatism 

In many cases, the symptoms of astigmatism are so mild that treatment to correct vision isn't required.

If treatment is needed, the type that's recommended will depend on the type of astigmatism you have (regular or irregular). Treatment will usually be in the form of corrective lenses (glasses or contact lenses) or laser eye surgery.

Corrective lenses

Corrective lenses work by compensating for the irregular curve of the cornea so incoming light passing through the corrective lens is properly focused on to the retina. The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye.

Glasses and contact lenses are usually equally effective at treating astigmatism. The type of corrective lenses you decide to use will therefore depend on your personal preference and the advice of your optometrist.

There's no medical reason why children can't wear contact lenses, although the opinion of your optometrist will be important in deciding if they're suitable. Most children over 12 years of age will be able to wear them.

However, it's important your child is able to use their lenses correctly. They must be able to follow any instructions related to their lenses, such as how long to keep them in and when to clean them.

If you choose to wear contact lenses, it's important to ensure good lens hygiene to prevent eye infections developing.

Read more about contact lens safety.

Laser eye surgery

Laser surgery involves using lasers (narrow beams of light) to remould the tissue of the cornea to change its curve.

Laser surgery to correct astigmatism isn't usually available free of charge on the NHS as it's not considered an essential medical treatment and other effective treatments are available, such as glasses and contact lenses.

However, in 2011 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) announced corrective laser surgery could be a treatment option on the NHS to improve vision after previous eye surgery.

For more information, see NICE guidance: laser correction of refractive error following non-refractive ophthalmic surgery (PDF, 96.8kb).

If you decide to have laser eye surgery, you'll have one or more appointments at a specialist eye clinic.

During laser surgery, the outer layer of cells of the corneal surface is removed. A laser is then used to remove tissue and change the shape of the cornea and the cornea is left to heal. The treatment usually takes 20 to 30 minutes.

There are a number of different techniques used for laser surgery. Your specialist should discuss the pros and cons of each technique with you, including any risks involved. The risks of complications associated with eye surgery are low.

Read more about laser eye surgery.

Page last reviewed: 17/10/2014

Next review due: 17/10/2016