Astigmatism is a condition of the eye that causes blurry vision due to an irregular shape of the cornea or the lens. In this condition, the cornea or the lens is shaped more like a football than a basketball which disrupts the way light enters the eye. Astigmatism can occur alone or together with other vision problems like nearsightedness or farsightedness.
Causes of Astigmatism
Astigmatism is caused by an irregular shape of the cornea or the lens. It can either be congenital or acquired. The exact cause of astigmatism in most people is unknown; however, it is believed to be genetic. Some other common causes of astigmatism include:
-Corneal scarring from an injury or eye surgery
-Keratoconus, a condition in which the cornea thins and bulges into a cone shape, causing blurry vision
-Excessive rubbing of the eyes, leading to changes in the cornea’s shape
Symptoms of Astigmatism
The symptoms of astigmatism are usually mild and may not be noticeable at first. Some common symptoms include:
-Blurred or distorted vision at any distance
-Eyestrain or headaches after prolonged periods of reading or using the computer
-Difficulty seeing at night
-Distorted or shadowed images
-Squinting or tilting the head to see better
Diagnosis of Astigmatism
An optometrist or ophthalmologist can diagnose astigmatism during a comprehensive eye examination. The examination typically includes:
-Visual acuity test: This measures the sharpness of vision at various distances.
-Refraction test: This determines the best lens prescription to correct the astigmatism.
-Keratometry: This measures the curvature of the cornea.
Corneal topography may also be performed to map the shape of the cornea and determine the extent of astigmatism.
Treatment of Astigmatism
The treatment of astigmatism depends on the severity of the condition and whether it is accompanied by other vision problems. The most common treatments for astigmatism include:
-Eyeglasses or contact lenses: Corrective lenses can refocus the light entering the eye to reduce astigmatism-related blurring.
-LASIK eye surgery: This procedure reshapes the cornea to a more spherical shape using a laser, correcting the astigmatism.
-Orthokeratology: This involves wearing contact lenses overnight that reshape the cornea, providing temporary relief from astigmatism.
-Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK): This procedure removes the top layer of the cornea and reshapes it using a laser, correcting the astigmatism.
Q: Can astigmatism be cured permanently?
A: Yes, LASIK surgery provides a permanent cure for astigmatism.
Q: Can contact lenses worsen astigmatism?
A: No, if correctly prescribed, contact lenses can improve astigmatism.
Q: Does astigmatism worsen with age?
A: Astigmatism can develop or worsen at any age; however, it is most common in children and may improve as they grow older.
Q: Is astigmatism a serious condition?
A: Astigmatism is not a serious condition, but if left untreated, it can cause eyestrain, headaches, and blurred vision.
Astigmatism is a common vision problem that can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery. If you experience any symptoms of astigmatism, it is important to have your eyes checked by an eye doctor to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Early detection and treatment can help prevent complications and improve the clarity of your vision.