What Is Astigmatism?
If you have visited the eye doctor recently, you may have heard the word “astigmatism” used to describe your condition. Alternatively, you may have come across this term in other environments, such as a conversation with friends or even online. Below is some basic information about astigmatism, how it affects your life, and the treatment options available.
What Is Astigmatism?
It is a common condition that occurs when your eye’s lens or cornea is not curved properly, leading to problems with your vision. The severity of this condition varies considerably, with some people experiencing few symptoms and others experiencing severe vision deficits.
When astigmatism is not present, the lens and cornea are curved equally in all directions and are smooth in shape. The purpose of both of these parts of the eye is to properly focus light rays on the retina. When it’s present, the light rays are not focused properly, leading to distorted and/or blurry images. In most cases, images will be blurry or distorted regardless of whether they are close or far away. However, some patients may have astigmatism along with other issues that affect vision at near or far distances. For example, if you are nearsighted and have astigmatism, your vision will be worst when looking at objects that are far away.
Someone with astigmatism may also experience:
- Eye pain
- Eye strain
- Frequent squinting in hopes of seeing more clearly
If these symptoms are present, it is important to make an appointment with a qualified eye doctor who can perform a thorough exam and diagnose you with astigmatism or another issue.
Keep in mind that, while adults with astigmatism may be aware that their vision is lacking, children may not realize they have a problem. For this reason, it is important to schedule regular eye exams for children to identify and correct astigmatism or any other issues that could be affecting their vision.
What Causes Astigmatism?
Doctors have not yet identified a clear cause of astigmatism. It is extremely common and affects both males and females of all backgrounds. Researchers believe that it may be inherited, which means that you are more likely to develop this condition if it runs in your family. Astigmatism may also develop following an eye surgery, injury to the eye, or disease affecting the eye. You cannot develop astigmatism because of “bad” vision habits, such as sitting too close to the television.
What are the Treatment Options?
Several treatments are available to improve or correct astigmatism. If you have it, you may simply need to wear contact lenses or glasses to correct the error. Both of these appliances work by compensating for the problems with the curve of your lens and/or cornea so that light focuses properly on the retina and a clear image can be produced.
More lens options are available for patients who have a mild to moderate astigmatism. If your condition is severe, you will have fewer options available to correct your vision. For example, patients with astigmatism must usually wear rigid contacts instead of soft lenses. Your doctor can discuss these options with you in more detail so you can make the right choice.
Some patients with astigmatism may also be good candidates for laser eye surgery. This procedure works by using a highly accurate laser to alter the shape of the cornea so that the refractive error is corrected. Laser eye surgery can be used for patients who have astigmatism with or without nearsightedness or farsightedness. However, not every patient will qualify for laser eye surgery to correct astigmatism, so talk to your eye doctor to find out if this option is appropriate for you.
Plenty of options exist to correct astigmatism, regardless of the severity. To learn more about this condition or to make an appointment with an eye doctor, please contact Garibaldi Eye Care today. We offer comprehensive eye exams and treatment for both children and adults.