You may have heard someone say they have an astigmatism before, but what does this actually mean?

What Is Astigmatism?

Normally, our eyes are shaped round.  Astigmatism happens when their shape forms irregularly.  This happens when either the cornea (the clear front cover of the eye), or the lens inside of the eye, grow mishapen.  Sometimes both are formed irregularly.  Astigmatism occurs when the cornea is formed more like a cone or football shape rather than round like a basketball.  In addition, the curvature of the lens can change as we age.  This alters the amount of astigmatism present.  It is a common condition that causes blurred vision at any distance.

How Does It Happen?

When light enters our eyes, it aligns on an area in the back of the eye called the retina.  With a typcial round eye, the light will align in one spot on the retina, but when our cornea is shaped more like a football, the light isn’t able to align in just one spot.  This causes our vision to be out of focus.

How Do You Know If You Have Astigmatism?

Symptoms of astigmatism include experiencing blurred vision at any distance, headaches, and general eye discomfort.  The best way to find out if you have astigmatism, however, is through your annual eye exam.  During the exam, the doctor will check for refractive errors which examine how your eyes focus light.  Your doctor will also take an exact measurement of the curvature of your cornea. These two tests, along with a visual acuity test can determine whether or not you have astigmatism.

How Is It Treated?

  • Glasses or Contact Lenses.  Your doctor will compensate for the astigmatism in your prescription for glasses or contact lenses.  Clear vision should be able to be obtained easily through either one. This is the most common form of treatment for astigmatism.
  • Ortho K.  Ortho K (Orthokeratology) is a type of rigid contact lens that is worn for short amounts of time (usually overnight). It will temporarily reshape the cornea of your eye so that you see clearly while not wearing it.  It is like a retainer for the eye.  The downside to this is that if you stop using the Ortho K lens, your eyes will most likely return to their original shape.
  • Surgical Procedures.  LASIK and PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) are surical procedures that can correct astigmatism by reshaping the eye through laser technology.  Layers of the cornea are removed to make the corrections.

Astigmatism is a common condition that affects many people.  Luckily, treating it can be a simple process.  It all starts with getting your yearly eye exam.  If you haven’t gotten yours yet, give us a call to schedule it 435.359.2020 or click HERE to schedule online.  We look forward to seeing you.

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