Astigmatism – Sounds like a big scientific term or a serious disease, isn’t it? Neither an eye disease nor a dreadful vision problem, astigmatism is just a refractive error caused due to irregular shaped lens and can be easily corrected. So if your eye-doctor tells you have astigmatism, relax!
Usually a normal cornea appears completely round as football but astigmatism cornea appears like a rugby ball. Since the curvature is asymmetrical, the objects appear blurred both far and near. The astigmatism eye faces problem to focus on light. The light falls on multiple focus points, sometimes in front of retina or behind retina or both.
What causes Astigmatism?
Some people are born with astigmatism, it is mostly inherited. If any of the parents have astigmatism, then the child is likely to have too. Anybody who already has vision problem like nearsighted or farsighted can also develop astigmatism which requires to be corrected. Sometimes it develops after any eye injury or operation like cataract. Since this eye imperfection mostly occurs in early stage of life, it is necessary to get detected with proper eye exam to avoid vision problem in future.
Blur vision is one of the common problems. Person with astigmatism can see objects either distorted or blurred across all distances. Ignoring astigmatism, may cause strain to eyes while performing any visual activities and also cause headache. Excessive squinting of eyes is also a common symptom observed in people with astigmatism. Sometimes it might be difficult to identify if you have astigmatism buy if you experience any of the above symptoms, it will be sensible to get your eyes examined without delay.
Astigmatism is quite common among children as well as adults, however you might not realise until you get your eyes tested. If you leave undiagnosed, you might find difficult to concentrate, read or clearly view objects. It is necessary to stay aware of any changes in vision hence you must have an eye check-up at regular intervals. For children it is recommended to get eye test every year while for adult once in two years. The normal eye-checkup will get your astigmatism tested too.
Types of Astigmatism:
There are actually many types of astigmatism with somewhat similar symptoms. You should be aware of the different types of astigmatism. Till now, numerous types of astigmatism have been identified, but the three primary types include:
Myopic astigmatism is a type of astigmatism where light comes to two focal points. The light rays are brought to a focus in front of the retina. One or both the key meridians of the eye are nearsighted. In case if both the meridians are nearsighted, then they are myopic in differing degree.
Hyperopic astigmatism is a condition where the objects are being focused behind the retina. One or both of the principal meridians are farsighted. In case if both the meridians are farsighted, then they are hyperopic in differing degree.
Mixed astigmatism is a refractive error where the light ray is not clearly focused on retina. In this type of astigmatism, one principal meridian is myopic (nearsighted) while the other is hyperopic (farsighted).
Astigmatism is also categorised as regular and irregular astigmatism:
- In regular astigmatism, the principal meridians are perpendicular to each other. The front surface of the eye appears as football shape
- In irregular astigmatism, the principal meridians are perpendicular which results in slow thinning of cornea. It is usually caused due to eye injury
If astigmatism is mild, there is not even need of treatment as per eye specialists. However astigmatism can be treated with surgery or can be corrected easily with eyeglasses or contact lenses. Most of the eye specialists suggest eyeglasses to correct astigmatism as it is simple and safe choice. Lenses will be prescribed as per your severity level of astigmatism.
Contact lens is also an effective vision correction option as it is comfortable and offers precise eyesight. However it doesn’t suit everyone. Remember, if you opt for contact lenses, you need to follow a thorough hygiene to avoid any kind of eye infection.
With refractive surgery you can change the shape of the cornea and get astigmatism corrected completely. You can experience enhanced vision; however it is wise to consult your eye doctor to know if surgery is a better choice.
In case if you opt for contact lenses or eyeglasses, your eye doctor would probably suggest you for soft type of corrective lenses called toric. As long as contact-lenses are concerned, gas-permeable rigid can also be a favourable option suggested by doctors depending on the astigmatism severity.
Your eye doctor will certainly suggest which is apt for correcting your vision in right way.
When to avoid surgery?
Laser surgery is not always a favourable choice. It should be avoided in case:-
- The person of under 18 years of age
- The patient is old, the vision keeps on changing (for laser surgery stable vision is necessary)
- Diabetic person, as surgery can harm their eyes more
- Pregnant woman as hormonal changes can affect the vision
- Patient having arthritis, HIV or lupus
- Person is under medication like oral prednisone or Accutane
Common queries (FAQs) related to Astigmatism
There is no fixed reason that how and why astigmatism can become worse. However wearing or not wearing glasses will not really make a difference to the condition of your astigmatism. There are no such medications available to correct astigmatism but as mentioned above, it can be cured with treatment. However according to a latest report, if a person has undergone cataract surgery, there are chances that astigmatism can become worst.
As already said before astigmatism is neither an eye disease nor a health related problem, it’s just a minor defect in the shape of cornea which will only result in blurred vision, headache, eye strain but not blindness.
In most of the cases, Astigmatism is developed due to genetic factor. So this eye defect is noticed in people by birth. However it may also occur suddenly due to some eye injury, disease or eye surgery. Also according to a report, in worst scenarios, even contact lenses can cause astigmatism, due to lack of oxygen reaching cornea.
Astigmatism actually often changes throughout the life and it can increase by age too. However, there is no need to worry as it can be corrected with suitable glasses or by surgery.
There is no such medication available to reduce or eliminate astigmatism, however wearing appropriate glasses / contact lenses can cure Astigmatism. Wearing prescription glasses will also correct your vision and help you to get rid of headache or eye strain due to this problem. Correction of astigmatism depends upon its severity.
Eventually, after knowing exactly everything about astigmatism, you must have concluded that astigmatism is not that risky for your vision and can be certainly detected and treated.