What is Astigmatism?

With more than three million cases in the U.S. every year, astigmatism is a disorder you've likely heard of. However, do you know exactly what astigmatism is? The very common defect is all about the shape of your eyes. Those who suffer from this issue have either a cornea or lens with an abnormal surface. Luckily, once diagnosed, astigmatism is simple to treat.

What Does Astigmatism Look Like?

A normally shaped, astigmatism-free cornea, that is, the outer layer of your eye that you can touch, is usually smooth and round. The spherical structure lets light in through the lens and to the retina, where it refracts and delivers a message about the light to your brain. This process can get a bit muddled when you have an astigmatism. The disorder results in an oval-shaped cornea, similar to the outline of a football, which isn’t as conducive to sending messages to your brain. Instead, the transmission causes fuzzy, unclear vision. This can also happen when your lens isn't the proper shape, a problem known as lenticular astigmatism.

How Does Astigmatism Happen?

Many people are born with astigmatism, however, a misshapen cornea or lens can develop after birth as well. An eye injury can produce an abnormal shape as can the occurrence of another refractive issue. For instance, both nearsightedness and farsightedness can trigger an astigmatism.

Symptoms of Astigmatism

Astigmatism often presents distinct effects that are a sure signal of the disorder. Blurry eyesight is one of the most common factors, however, consistent headaches are also an early indicator. Those who are born with the issue may have a difficult time diagnosing it without the presence of head pains as they'll likely view the unclear vision as normal. If you experience either of these symptoms, be sure to visit your doctor, who will conduct tests using devices such as keratoscopes and videokeratoscopes.

Treatments for Astigmatism

Eyewear

The easiest option for mitigating the symptoms of astigmatism is the use of special contact lenses or glasses. Major advances in technology in the last decade have paved the way for more options beyond standard glasses or hard contact lenses for patients. The three types of contact lenses that can be used on this disorder are:

  • Hard Lenses
  • Gas Permeable Lenses
  • Soft Contact Lenses

For a totally fuss-free approach to astigmatism treatment, you can elect to undergo surgery. Both LASIK (laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis) and PRK (photorefreactive kearatectomy) operations are viable options to alleviate your symptoms without external accessories.

Knowing what astigmatism is the first step toward successful identification of the issue. Always be sure to consult your doctor for a proper test and guidance on how to choose the treatment method that best complements your lifestyle and your particular needs.

 


 

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