What is Astigmatism?

Overview

Astigmatism (Yah-STIG-ee-uhm) is an irregularly shaped and common imperfection in the shape of the eye which causes near and far vision problems. Astigmatism usually occurs when the front surface of the eye (the cornea) or the lens inside the eye has mismatched curves. Rather than having just one curve like an egg, the cornea or lens is egg shaped. This causes near and far sightseeing problems at all distances.

Distortion of the cornea – especially in people with astigmatism – can cause the light to come in at an angle through the cornea and this is called nearsightedness or farsightedness. The light can also be brought in at an angle through the cornea and this is called farsightedness or hyperopia. In some cases, both near and far can be blurred due to astigmatism.

How do I know if my eyes are Astigmatism?

Two types of astigmatism are – with-the-rule astigmatism and hyperopic astigmatism. With-the-rule astigmatism is the only type that has a visible cause, but not a cure. For hyperopic astigmatism, there are a cause but not a cure. The hyperopic astigmatism is the only astigmatism that the human eye can correct for, even if it does not have the same curve as the cornea.

You must know that astigmatism can cause you to squint. This occurs because the eye’s irregularly shaped cornea tries to focus the light. The symptoms may not be noticeable to the untrained eye. However, if you notice that your vision is getting blurred when you are squinting, you should consult your doctor. Astigmatism sufferers may have different symptoms, which may include –

Can Astigmatism be cured?

In most cases, astigmatism can be cured by wearing eyeglasses. However, if the condition is severe, or occurs in astigmatism patients, a toric contact lens may be necessary. The principle meridian for astigmatism is located just behind the eye and a toric contact lens is designed to correct the symptoms associated with Astigmatism. A spherical lens that is made of a gas-permeable material will go through one eye smoothly and prescription lenses cannot be used.

A word of warning – it is important to note that Astigmatism does not necessarily affect your ability to see clearly. It is caused by an imperfectly shaped cornea and may cause you to squint or have eye fatigue easily. In order to have a clear vision, you need to visit an eye doctor for regular check-ups and eye examinations. If you notice any vision problems or any other symptoms that may lead you to see a doctor, you should always do so without delay.

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