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Can Refractive Surgery Help My Astigmatism?

Vision problems are always a pain. Your eyes are vulnerable to any number of accidents or illnesses, but genetic and growth abnormalities can cause vision abnormalities, too. One of these abnormalities is astigmatism, caused by an error in the shape of your lens or cornea. 

Astigmatism can be frustrating and annoying, but there are procedures that can help you see much more clearly than you did before. At Black Hills Regional Eye Institute, ophthalmologist Stephen Khachikian, MD, is an experienced and compassionate professional with years of experience treating various conditions that affect the eye, including astigmatism. 

If you’re living with astigmatism, nearsightedness, or farsightedness, Dr. Khachikian may recommend refractive surgery. 

Refractive surgery can treat several conditions, but may not be right for everyone. If you’re considering surgery for your astigmatism, there are several things to understand about refractive surgery. 

What’s refractive surgery?

There are several types of refractive surgery, but Dr. Khachikian prefers to use the two most popular types of refractive surgical techniques for his patients: LASIK and PRK. 

Both procedures help you to see more quickly by manipulating the cornea and/or your natural lens. Both procedures are also very efficient, with each step taking only about 60 seconds. 


The first laser vision treatment, photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), is still widely and effectively used around the world.The first-ever PRK laser eye surgery was in 1987. 

The original laser, the excimer laser, was FDA-approved for use in laser eye surgery in 1995. In the years after approval, the laser’s abilities were further developed. 

During PRK surgery, Dr. Khachikian first numbs your eyes with special eyedrops. He positions your eye to gently operate. With a laser, he removes the top layer of the cornea (epithelium) and then reshapes the other corneal layers. He fixes any other corneal issues, finishing by fitting your eye with a special bandage.     


LASIK surgery was first approved by the FDA in 1996. LASIK differs from PRK in that LASIK does not remove the top layer of the cornea. Instead, Dr. Khachikian cuts a flap in the cornea, then lifts the flap to access the other layers of the cornea, which he reshapes using lasers. Finally, he replaces the flap, which repairs itself over several months.

Your projected recovery time for LASIK is generally faster than for PRK, but not everyone is a candidate for LASIK. PRK may be a better option for those with certain conditions, like thin corneas

Can it help with astigmatism? 

Absolutely! Dr. Khachikian has treated many patients living with astigmatism over the years and is a specialist in the treatment of vision problems. Dr. Khachikian’s patients generally experience a smooth recovery, and LASIK patients can return to their daily lives within a few days. 

What are the risks? 

With any surgical procedure, there is always at least a small risk. With refractive surgery, though, the risks are more related to the type of surgery that’s best for you. With refractive surgery, some risks include: 

This might make refractive surgery sound risky, but both procedures have equally high levels of both success and patient satisfaction. Dr. Khachikian understands that some medical procedures can make patients nervous and can help you prepare for a quick appointment.      

If you’re tired of vision problems and having to wear glasses or contact lenses, you may be a candidate for refractive surgery. Call our Rapid City, South Dakota, office today for a consultation at 605-203-4268, or book an appointment with us online.

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