Astigmatism – Understanding the Basics

Nov 15, 2023 | Eye Health Resources

When it comes to vision, most people are familiar with common terms like nearsightedness or farsightedness, but astigmatism is a condition that is less understood. Astigmatism is a common refractive error that impacts the way light enters the eye, leading to blurred or distorted vision. Astigmatism comes in two forms: regular and irregular. Regular astigmatism involves a pronounced curve in the cornea either vertically or horizontally, while irregular astigmatism occurs when the uneven curve spans the entire corneal surface.

In both cases, the abnormal curvature hinders light from focusing on a single point on the retina, leading to blurred vision. This condition may be present from birth, develop later, or result from factors like injury, eye disease, or hereditary factors. Symptoms include blurry vision, difficulty focusing, frequent squinting, and challenges with night vision. Eye strain and headaches are common, especially during prolonged periods of close-up activities. In this article, we’ll delve into the details of astigmatism, exploring its causes, symptoms, and the importance of proper eye care for those affected.

What You Need To Know About Astigmatism And The Treatment Options Available.

normal vision and astigmatism

Defining Astigmatism. What Is It Exactly?

At its core, astigmatism is a refractive error caused by an irregular shape of the cornea or lens. Unlike a perfectly round cornea or lens, individuals with astigmatism have a cornea or lens with a more football or egg-like shape. This asymmetry disrupts the normal process of light entering the eye, resulting in blurred or distorted vision.

What Are Symptoms Of Astigmatism

Astigmatism can manifest in various ways, and its symptoms may include blurred or distorted vision, eye strain, headaches, and difficulty seeing clearly at night. Individuals experiencing any of these symptoms should promptly seek professional eye care to determine if astigmatism is the underlying cause.

Astigmatism and Eye Fatigue

One often overlooked aspect of astigmatism is its potential link to eye fatigue. The constant effort required by the eyes to compensate for the irregular shape of the cornea or lens can lead to tired, strained eyes. Understanding this connection is crucial for those who spend prolonged periods in front of screens or engage in visually demanding tasks.

Diagnosing Astigmatism

Diagnosing astigmatism is a routine part of comprehensive eye examinations. Optometrists use various tests, such as refraction and corneal mapping, to assess the extent and nature of astigmatism in an individual’s eyes. Early detection is key, as corrective measures can be employed to manage the condition effectively.

Types of Astigmatism

Astigmatism is categorised into different types based on its origin. Regular astigmatism occurs when the cornea has a consistent curvature, but it is not symmetrical. Irregular astigmatism, on the other hand, may result from an uneven curvature of the lens or cornea due to injury or disease.

Treating Astigmatism: Eyeglasses

One of the most common and effective ways to correct astigmatism is through prescription eyeglasses. Specially crafted lenses compensate for the irregularities in the cornea or lens, allowing light to focus properly on the retina. Eyeglasses are a non-invasive and practical solution for many individuals with astigmatism.

Contact Lenses for Astigmatism

For those who prefer an alternative to eyeglasses, toric contact lenses are designed to address astigmatism. These lenses have a unique shape that helps them stay in place on the irregular cornea, providing clear vision. However, proper fitting and regular eye check-ups are crucial when using contact lenses to ensure eye health.

Surgical Options

In some cases, you may consider surgical options to correct astigmatism. Refractive surgeries like LASIK can reshape the cornea, improving its symmetry and reducing astigmatism. While these procedures can be effective, they require careful consideration and consultation with an eye care professional.

Astigmatism and Other Eye Conditions

Understanding the interplay between astigmatism and other eye conditions is vital for comprehensive eye care. For instance, astigmatism often coexists with conditions like myopia or hyperopia, requiring a nuanced approach to correction and management.

Astigmatism is a prevalent refractive error that impacts the daily lives of many individuals. Recognising the symptoms, seeking timely diagnosis, and exploring suitable corrective measures are essential steps in managing astigmatism. Whether through eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgical options, prioritising eye health contributes to a clearer and more vibrant vision for a fulfilling life. Regular eye check-ups with a qualified optometrist remain the cornerstone of maintaining optimal vision and preventing the progression of astigmatism.

At Beyond Eyecare Our highly qualified and experienced optometrists will take the time to get to know you and your eyesight concerns like astigmatism. We use the latest diagnostic equipment to detect any signs of eye disease or conditions. We will answer any questions you have about your diagnosis and offer the best solutions to manage your condition so that you can get on with enjoying your life. Book a consultation today.

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