What is Astigmatism?

Experiencing blurring vision? You might have astigmatism.

While astigmatism may be a difficult word to pronounce or spell, (this one got me in the 5th-grade spelling bee), it is a pretty simple definition: your eye isn’t perfectly round and almost everyone has unevenly shaped eyeballs to a certain degree. The more technical definition explains how your irregularly shaped cornea prevents light from focusing properly on the retina.

Improperly focused light causes blurred vision and can result in some discomfort in the eyes and head in the form of distorted vision and headaches. However, having astigmatism isn’t anything to lose sleep over. In actuality, over 60 percent of Americans use some form of astigmatism correction such as glasses or contact lenses.

(Eyeglasses are a common treatment option for astigmatism.) 

What Causes Astigmatism?

Most individuals with astigmatism are born with the condition or develop it over time. However, the exact cause of astigmatism is still cloudy. The development of astigmatism can occur following an eye injury, continued eye strain, corneal disease, or even from ocular surgery.

As a generally inherited condition, some old wives tales that surround the condition state that reading in dim lighting or sitting too close to a television will cause astigmatism. While grandma is right — reading next to a lamp is better for your eyes, these actions do not spur astigmatism development, though they can make the condition worse over time through eye strain.

Types of Astigmatism

Myopic Astigmatism (Nearsightedness) – The cornea is curved too much or the eye is longer than normal. Light is incorrectly focused in front of the retina, instead of directly on the retina. This results in distant objects looking blurry.

Hyperopia Astigmatism (Farsightedness) – The cornea is curved too little or your eye is shorter than normal. Opposite of myopic astigmatism, light is incorrectly focused behind the retina. This results in nearby objects looking blurry.

Mixed Astigmatism – This is where light is focused on two points, one in front of the retina and the other behind it.

(One of our optometristscan determine your astigmatism status with a simple vision test.) 

Symptoms of Astigmatism

Astigmatism is normally a noticeable condition to a patient and can be diagnosed by an optometrist with a simple vision test. If you or your child is experiencing any of these symptoms you may have a form of astigmatism:

  • Blurry and/or distorted vision
  • Headaches
  • Excessive squinting
  • Eye strain
  • Difficulty with night vision
  • Glare and Halos
  • Pain in muscles around eyes

Astigmatism Treatment

The goal with the treatment of astigmatism is to eliminate blurred vision and increase eye comfort. As millions of Americans live with astigmatism, the resolution to the condition is rather minimal to everyday life. To correct the irregularities caused by the cornea there are three main treatment options help restore proper vision:

Eyeglasses – Glasses are made with lenses that counteract the uneven shape of the eyes. This allows light to bend correctly into the retina.

Contact Lenses – Contact lenses act in the same manner as glasses, but are form-fitted to the eyes. With a variety of options, contacts are often popular with a younger population and require good hygiene in order to prevent eye infection.

Refractive Surgery – With the use of a laser beam, an eye surgeon reshapes the curvature of the cornea, fixing the refractive error. Depending upon your eye shape and individual case, common refractive surgeries include: LASIK, LASEK, PRK and Epi-LASIK. These forms of astigmatism treatment eliminate the need for glasses and contacts.

Solving Your Astigmatism

Fixing astigmatism is an important issue. Providing you the proper diagnosis, prescription, and ultimately treatment, is our top priority at Family Focus Eyecare. We understand how clear vision is a necessity to enjoying life.

Schedule an appointment with us today, and together we can help ensure that your eyes are both happy and healthy.