Astigmatism is one of the more common eye conditions that affect children and adults. It is usually congenital, but not contagious. However, astigmatism can progress if a person experiences an eye injury or undergoes an eye operation. Along with myopia, hypermetropia, and presbyopia, astigmatism belongs to a type of eye condition called refractive errors, in which the shape of a person’s eye fails to bend light correctly, resulting in blurred perception. Proper refraction involves even focus of light from the cornea and lens onto the retina in order to see images clearly.
How is astigmatism detected?
Astigmatism occurs in varied degrees, so a successful early detection will usually depend on the severity of the condition. People with slight astigmatism will hardly notice a change in their vision, which is why it is wise to get eye exams periodically. There are several signs that you might have astigmatism, so if you have any of the following, it is important that you consult an eye care expert.
– Blurred or distorted vision at various distances
– Difficulty driving at night
– Excessive squinting
– Eye strain when focusing for long periods of time
– Sensitivity to light
How do eye care professionals diagnose astigmatism?
Ophthalmologists and optometrists are the experts to look for when dealing with a potential case of astigmatism. Apart from the well-known visual acuity test in which a patient is asked to read letters on a distance chart, other tools and procedures (like Keratometry and Refraction) can also be employed to determine how serious a patient’s astigmatism is.
Can astigmatism be treated?
There are various ways to treat astigmatism, depending on how serious it is. The most common solution that people choose is wearing eyeglasses that come with special cylindrical prescription lenses that make up for the astigmatism. Other patients are better off with contact lenses because they provide a wider field of perception. Both soft toric lenses and rigid contact lenses can correct astigmatism, but the latter is more capable of compensating for the cornea’s abnormal shape.
LASIK eye surgery for astigmatism
People with astigmatism also have the option to undergo laser and other refractive surgery procedures to correct the shape of their cornea. LASIK addresses astigmatism by eliminating tissue found in the inner layer of the cornea. In this process, the ophthalmologist uses a device called keratome to make a thin incision into the patient’s cornea, after which the resulting flap is lifted. A laser is then used to reshape the cornea. The biggest advantages of LASIK compared to other solutions are the painless nature of the surgery and the patient’s fast recovery time. While LASIK patients get their vision back in just a couple of days, a completely stable vision usually takes a month to achieve.
Regardless of the procedure that you eventually choose, the importance of getting regular eye exams can’t be overemphasized. Most people who have astigmatism from birth won’t realize it until they undergo a routine eye test, and those who develop it later may chalk it up to a different cause.
Schedule an exam with one of EyeCare 20/20’s experts today. Occasional blurriness in one’s vision may be due to fatigue or lack of sleep, but it might be a sign of astigmatism — so don’t continue to ignore it!
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