Astigmatism is a common type of refractive error in which light is not focused evenly onto the retina. Refraction refers to the bending of light as it passes through objects.
In the eye, light rays are refracted through the cornea and lens, then focused on the retina. From the retina, light rays become messages sent through the optic nerve to the brain, turning the messages into what we see.
How Does Astigmatism Occur?
Astigmatism occurs due to an irregularly shaped cornea. A normal eye has a cornea shaped like a sphere. An eye with astigmatism has a football like shape. This irregular curve causes images to appear blurry and distorted.
Astigmatism can be found in both children and adults. Depending on the degree of severity, astigmatism may not be noticed at all.
Common Warning Signs of Astigmatism
Signs and symptoms of astigmatism include headaches, eyestrain, squinting, and distorted vision. These symptoms may be similar to that of other refractive errors. As such, it is important to schedule an eye examination with our Optometrist if any change in vision is noticed.
As previously stated, it is possible to have mild astigmatism and not know it. This is especially true in children who are not aware of what normal vision appears like.
During an eye examination, the Optometrist will be able to detect astigmatism. They will begin with a vision test; reading letters off of a chart from across the room. Depending on the results of the test, our Optometrist may conduct further examination.
Astigmatism can be corrected with prescribed lenses or refractive surgery (laser eye surgery) depending on patient needs. Some patients prefer refractive surgery as it reduces the need to wear prescribed lenses.
The most common treatment method for astigmatism is prescribed eyeglasses or contact lenses. By being the first refractive surface for light, lenses work by causing a better focus. The lenses can provide the patient with clearer vision.
Refractive surgery works by changing the shape of the cornea permanently. By doing so, the need to wear prescribed lenses is decreased, if not completely eliminated. Changing the shape of the cornea allows incoming light rays to focus directly on the retina.
Many refractive procedures exist to correct astigmatism. With that being said, it is important to consult our Optometrist to determine which surgery, if any at all, is the right option for you.
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