One of the most common causes of vision problems is astigmatism, though we hear far less about it than we do nearsightedness and farsightedness. It’s a condition that most people have to some degree, but in many cases, the amount of astigmatism is not significant enough to cause vision problems. Astigmatism simply means that your eye is not completely round.
If your eye were perfectly round, the light that comes into the eye would bend evenly and give you perfectly clear vision. However, most eyes are off-perfect, more like a football or an egg in shape. This means that the light that comes into the eye doesn’t bend perfectly, which could produce multiple vision difficulties.
The cause of astigmatism in most people is not known. Many doctors believe that there is a genetic component to the condition. However, in some people astigmatism, can be caused by an eye injury, an eye disease, or facial surgeries. It’s NOT true that it’s caused by sitting too close to the TV or reading in low light. Those are just well-known myths.
There are three primary types of astigmatism, and they are based on what’s called the “meridians.” Basically, the meridians are an imaginary line on the eye. Imagine that the front of the eye is the face of a clock. One meridian would be a line that runs from the 12 to the 6 on the clock, the other a line that runs from the 3 to the 9.
If both meridians are myopic, or nearsighted, in their deviation from normal, then it’s called myopic astigmatism. If both medians are hyperopic, or farsighted, then it’s called hyperopic astigmatism. Finally, if one is nearsighted and one farsighted, it’s called mixed astigmatism.
There is also a qualifying condition related to the primary types of astigmatism, called regular or irregular. If your eye has regular astigmatism, the two meridians are 90 degrees apart, or perpendicular, as if you’re looking at crosshairs in a telescope. If you have irregular astigmatism, the meridians are something other than 90 degrees.
The common symptoms of astigmatism include blurry or distorted vision, headaches, squinting, problems with night vision, and eye strain or discomfort. If you are experiencing any of those symptoms in a way that is causing problems in your daily life, you should schedule an appointment with your eye care professional as soon as possible.
So how is astigmatism treated? One of the ways it can be treated is with glasses, which of course can also be crafted to treat both nearsightedness and farsightedness.
Astigmatism can also be treated using contact lenses in all the common forms: disposable soft; extended wear; rigid, gas permeable; and bifocal. Contact lenses can also be used in a procedure for astigmatism called orthokeratology, which requires wearing a rigid contact lens for several hours a day to even out the shape of the eye. Then, after the eye has a new shape, you wear the lenses less frequently to maintain the shape. The downside of that treatment is that if you stop using the lenses, the eye will return to its pre-treatment shape.
Astigmatism can also be treated through LASIK procedures. In this treatment, an eye surgeon will create a hinged flap in your cornea. He or she will then shape the cornea with the laser and reposition the flap. If you’re looking for a more permanent solution for your astigmatism issues without having to worry about the inconveniences of glasses or contact lenses, then LASIK is a viable option to consider.
If you’re thinking that it’s time to take care of your astigmatism problems, the staff at EyeCare 20/20 will be very happy to talk to you about LASIK and other procedures that can make your life much more manageable and clear. Contact EyeCare 20/20 t
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