What You Need to Know About Astigmatism

  • Astigmatism can either be a misshapen cornea or lens.
  • The number one cause of astigmatism is genetics as it is present at birth and later develops while you age.
  • Having corrective surgery and wearing corrective lenses can restore normal eyesight.

What is astigmatism?

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A person with astigmatism has an irregularly shaped or curved cornea or lens.

This can distort, blur, and make one’s vision fuzzy as it changes the way the light refracts or passes to your retina. One can also encounter two other problems concerning the way the light passes to the retina — nearsightedness or myopia and farsightedness or hyperopia.

Types

  1. Corneal astigmatism or misshapen cornea.
  2. Lenticular astigmatism or misshapen lens.

Causes

Even though the cause of astigmatism is unknown; genetics can play a big role as astigmatism can be found at birth and later develops. Another cause can be an eye injury or an eye surgery. When a person has nearsightedness or farsightedness, it is possible that one also has astigmatism as it can occur simultaneously.

Who is at risk?

Astigmatism affects both children and adults but a person is at a higher risk for developing astigmatism if they have the following:

  1. Genetics/heredity/family history of eye disorders like keratoconus and astigmatism.
  2. Previous eye surgery such as cataract removal
  3. Thinning or scarring of the cornea
  4. Blurry vision at a distance from excessive nearsightedness
  5. Blurry close-up vision from excessive farsightedness

Symptoms

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It depends as one person can exhibit symptoms while others do not exhibit any symptom at all or are asymptomatic.

  1. Headaches
  2. Eye strain
  3. Eye irritation
  4. Squinting
  5. Night vision difficulty
  6. Blurry, distorted, or fuzzy vision at all distances (up close and far away)

Consult a doctor if you have any of these symptoms to determine if you have astigmatism or if it is a symptom of another vision or health problem.

Diagnosis

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Have a comprehensive eye examination from an optometrist or an ophthalmologist for proper diagnosis. Vision problems and eye diseases are diagnosed by an optometrist while medical and surgical treatment of vision problems and eye diseases are an ophthalmologist’s specialization.

Visual Tests

1. Visual acuity assessment test

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A doctor uses an eye chart for examining visual acuity.  Letters are read from a specific distance to check how well one sees the letters.  The letters are in varying sizes.

2. Refraction test

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An optical refractor machine with different lenses and strengths is used for this test.  The patient reads from a chart while looking with varying lenses and strengths. One’s prescription glasses are based on the best lens and strength.

3. Keratometry

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A doctor uses a keratometer to measure the curvature of your cornea.

Treatments

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1. Corrective lenses

The most common and least invasive treatment is corrective eyeglasses and contact lenses with the proper prescription according to results of your test.

2. Orthokeratology (Ortho-K)

If you have an irregular curvature of the cornea, you will have to wear rigid contact lenses for a limited period of time during sleep and remove it during the day.  This treatment is called Orthokeratology (Ortho-K). Upon stopping, your vision will go back to its previous state.

3. Surgery

In severe cases, the doctor may recommend refractive surgery to permanently correct astigmatism.  The three most common astigmatism surgeries are: laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK), photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), and radial keratotomy (RK).

It is important to consult with your doctor on the risk and benefits of having any of these surgeries.

Complications

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Uncorrected astigmatism can lead to amblyopia or lazy eyes.

One cannot prevent astigmatism from developing but normal vision is possible after wearing corrective lenses or undergoing surgery.

 

Source: healthline



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