Have you ever been diagnosed with astigmatism? There’s a very good chance you have – according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, about one in three people in the United States has the condition. Though the name may suggest otherwise (it’s not “a stigmatism”), there really is no stigma to this common condition.
What is astigmatism?
It’s important to note that astigmatism is not an eye health issue or an eye disease. Like many things, it is simply a quirk of body composition. Ideally, our eyes should be perfect spheres without any imperfections. Astigmatism occurs when either the cornea or lens is less than perfectly round. In the case of many with with the condition, the surface of the eye is likely oblong. This egg-like shape prevents light from properly focusing on the retina, which causes blurry vision of objects close up or far away.
Often, astigmatism can be present at birth, but it can also develop over time. It may occur in tandem with farsightedness or nearsightedness or it may develop in response to an incident like an eye injury.
Symptoms of astigmatism, other than blurred or distorted vision, can include headaches, squinting, eye discomfort or strain, and/or difficulty seeing at night. If these symptoms detract from everyday life, an optometrist can determine whether they are caused by the condition and to what degree.
How is it treated?
Often, astigmatism is not pronounced enough to require corrective action, and will simply be monitored by an eye doctor to ensure it doesn’t progress to the point of correction. If corrective action is necessary, there are a few options available.
Past options for astigmatism were limited to glasses or hard contact lenses. Fortunately, there are several types of soft contact lenses available today for most prescriptions; these include daily disposable and multifocal options. In most cases, LASIK is also able to permanently correct astigmatism.
Checking in with your optometrist
In a recent study of more than 2,500 children in the United States between ages 5 and 17, more than 28% had astigmatism that required correction. Like with other refractive errors that cause near- and farsightedness, children may not realize their vision is blurred, so it’s important to have them screened each year.
Astigmatism can be detected during a routine comprehensive eye exam. To make an appointment, contact us or schedule at your convenience online today.