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Astigmatism: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
August is National Eye Exam Month, and it’s important to remember you should schedule regular eye exams. People who wear glasses or contacts should visit their optometrist annually. Those without eye problems should schedule an exam every few years as a check-up to have your eyes looked at by a professional for any changes or concerns.
Here are some facts about astigmatism, what causes it, and signs to look out for, as well as treatment options for those who have astigmatism.
What is Astigmatism?
Your eyes take in light using the cornea (the clear front layer of the eye) and the lens (the inner part of the eye that helps the eye focus). Normally, the cornea and lens are smoothed and curved, which helps light rays to be sent to the retina. Your retina converts light into neural signals that are sent to the brain for recognition.2
If the cornea or the lens is not curved properly, it affects how light rays are refracted.3 Astigmatism occurs when the cornea or lens has a different shape than normal or when the two have mismatched curves.4 Astigmatism is commonly referred to as a refractive error because the mismatched curves change the way the light rays are bent, resulting in two different images.5
Types of Astigmatism
Astigmatism has two different types5:
- Corneal astigmatism. This type of astigmatism occurs if your cornea has mismatched curves.
- Lenticular astigmatism. This type of astigmatism occurs when your lens have mismatched curves.
- Regular astigmatism: this occurs when the eye is not completely curved and instead evenly misshaped. For example, instead of a round shape like a basketball, it’s more in the shape of a football.
- Irregular astigmatism: this occurs when the eye is not completely curved like a regular astigmatism. However, in this case, the eye has an uneven curvature.
What Causes Astigmatism?
Astigmatism is typically present at birth. However, other causes of astigmatism could include an eye injury or disease.
Here are some factors that may put you more at risk for astigmatism7:
- A family history of astigmatism or other eye disorders
- Scarring of the cornea
- Excessive nearsightedness
- Excessive farsightedness
- Surgery, such as cataract surgery
Symptoms of Astigmatism
- Blurry vision
- Distorted vision
- Squinting to see clearly
- Eye discomfort
These symptoms are also common symptoms for other eye conditions. It’s important to see an eye doctor who can properly diagnose you and your symptom when you find that your vision is changing.
Treatment for Astigmatism
Treatment for astigmatism is usually straight-forward. Glasses or contacts help treat most cases of astigmatism.8
Eyeglasses can be curved to counteract the shape of the cornea or lens that’s causing you to experience blurred vision. These work best when looking straight forward, but they might make the floor or walls look tilted. This is an effect that would take some time to get used to if you’re wearing glasses.
Contact lenses can also help, but with astigmatism, you will need a special kind. Soft lenses, also known as toric lenses, are used for patients with astigmatism. These lenses are designed to return to the same spot of your eye each time you blink.
In certain cases, doctors may recommend orthokeratology, which involves fitting rigid contact lenses that work to reshape the cornea. In this case, a patient would wear these lenses overnight or for a limited time.9
Surgery is another option for those with severe astigmatism. LASIK or PRK procedures can correct astigmatism by reshaping the cornea. These procedures are slightly different, but they work by removing tissue from either the superficial or inner layers of the cornea.
Learn More Today
Take the time to learn more about your eye health today. If you or a loved one have an eye concern or have noticed changes in your vision, schedule an appointment with an optometrist.
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Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long-term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- “Astigmatism.” Cleveland Clinic, clevelandclinic.org. Accessed August 8th, 2022. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/8576-astigmatism.
- “Retina.” Healthline Media, healthline.com. January 1st, 2018. Accessed August 9th, 2022. https://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/retina#1.
- Boyd, Kierstan. “What Is Astigmatism? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, aao.org. August 5th, 2022. Accessed August 8th, 2022. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-astigmatism.
- “Astigmatism.” National Institutes of Health, National Eye Institute. Accessed August 8th, 2022. https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/astigmatism#:~:text=Astigmatism%20is%20a%20common%20eye,to%20get%20an%20eye%20exam.
- “Astigmatism.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Mayo Clinic. Accessed August 8th, 2022. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/astigmatism/symptoms-causes/syc-20353835.
- Higuera, Valencia. “What Is Astigmatism?” Healthline Media, healthline.com. January 26th, 2022. Accessed August 8th, 2022. https://www.healthline.com/health/astigmatism.
- “Astigmatism.” Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, uvahealth.com. Accessed August 8th, 2022. https://uvahealth.com/services/eye-care/astigmatism.
- Seltman, Whitney. “Astigmatism.” WebMD, webmd.com. October 7th, 2021. Accessed August 8th, 2022. https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/astigmatism-eyes.
- “Astigmatism.” American Optometric Association, aoa.org. Accessed August 8th, 2022. https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-and-vision-conditions/astigmatism?sso=y.