There are many different issues that can affect our eyes and vision. Many people are familiar with myopia and hyperopia. Myopia, aka nearsightedness, is where you can see nearby objects clearly, but ones further away appear blurred. Hyperopia is the opposite, with far-away objects being seen clearly. However, far fewer people understand another very common refractive eye problem – astigmatism.
Here’s what you need to know about astigmatism and how to know if you are affected by this common eye condition.
Astigmatism occurs when the cornea, which is the clear, domed lens covering the front part of the eye, or the lens behind it, isn’t round in shape but instead is oval, like a football. This unusual shape distorts the light entering the eye, preventing it from focusing directly onto the retina. The retina is found at the back of the eye and is responsible for receiving light and converting it into messages sent up to the brain, which then tells us what we can see.
There are actually two types of astigmatism. These are known as regular and irregular.
In regular astigmatism, the issues with your vision occur because the curve of the cornea is more in one direction than the other, causing one side to be steeper than the rest. Regular astigmatism can usually be corrected quite easily using either prescription glasses, or a special type of contact lens known as a toric lens. It’s unique because it is designed to reflect the steeper curve of the cornea and needs to be inserted the right way up to be effective. It’s weighted to help you to do this.
It’s not always known why regular astigmatism develops, but experts believe that the condition is partly genetic. Some people also develop astigmatism following illness, injury to the eye, or surgery.
In irregular astigmatism, which is much less common, the curve of the cornea isn’t even. It’s most often caused by damage to the cornea, such as a chemical burn or the development of a condition like keratoconus, which causes the cornea to progressively thin and bulge. Glasses aren’t usually effective, but specialist contact lenses can help.
The most common symptom of astigmatism is blurred vision when you are trying to focus on objects at long distances, like traffic signs or a movie theater screen. However, it can also affect your near vision that you use for activities like reading, using a cell phone, or concentrating on a close-up task such as sewing on a button. Astigmatism can affect one eye, or both, and not always to the same degree.
If your astigmatism is left untreated, other symptoms you may experience could include:
If you experience any of these, you should make an appointment with your eye doctor as soon as possible.
For more information about astigmatism, or to make an appointment to discuss your concerns about the health of your eyes or vision, please contact our eyecare experts at Manchester Eyecare in North Manchester, Indiana at (260) 306-3937 today.