Astigmatism is a common eye condition which causes objects at any distance to appear blurry and wavy. Astigmatism is characterized by an irregular curvature of the cornea.
A person’s eye is naturally spherical in shape. Under normal circumstances, when light enters the eye, it refracts evenly, creating a clear view of the object. However, the eye of a person with astigmatism is shaped more like a football or the back of a spoon. For this person, when light enters the eye it is refracted more in one direction than the other, allowing only part of the object to be in focus at one time.
A type of refractive error, astigmatism is easily corrected by eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery. Astigmatism occurs in nearly everybody to some degree. For significant curvature, treatment is required.
What are the Symptoms of Astigmatism?
People with undetected astigmatism often experience:
- Blurred vision at all distances.
While these symptoms may not necessarily be the result of astigmatism, you should schedule an eye exam if you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms.
What Causes Astigmatism?
Astigmatism can be hereditary and is often present at birth. It can also result from pressure from the eyelids on the cornea, incorrect posture, or an increased use of the eyes for close work.
How are Astigmatisms Diagnosed?
An opthalmologist can diagnose astigmatism with a thorough eye exam. Astigmatism may occur with other refractive errors such as myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness). Unfortunately, astigmatism often goes undetected in school-age children.
Because astigmatisms may increase slowly, you should visit your optometrist or Optician whenever you notice significant changes in your vision. Optometrists are trained specifically to examine the general health of the eyes and prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses. Opticians provide total eye care, including exams, diagnosis, and treatment of disease through medication and surgery.