If you have blurred vision that just doesn’t seem to improve over time, there’s a chance you might have an eye issue known as astigmatism. This can be a frustrating situation, leading not only to squinting but even headaches.
Here are some causes of astigmatism, as well as some things you can do to correct the problem.
What is Astigmatism?
So, what is this condition exactly?
Well, it happens when your cornea is shaped irregularly. The cornea is the covering of your eye. It can also happen when the lens inside your eye isn’t curved correctly.
The reason irregular curvature is a problem is that it doesn’t allow light to focus correctly on the retina.
This is the portion of your eye that is sensitive to light. When this focus is off, blurred vision can result – whether you’re looking at things close up or far away.1
Now, astigmatism is very common. If you only have a mild case, you probably won’t even know it — and won’t require treatment. But if your condition is more profound, you might experience:
- Difficulty driving at night
- Blurry or distorted vision2
Why Does Astigmatism Occur?
Unfortunately, it’s not exactly clear as to why astigmatism occurs. Some people are simply born with it. In some cases, it will get worse as time goes along, but there are situations in which it might actually improve. For example, the curve of the lens can change as you get older, increasing astigmatism as a result.3
Some people also have an issue known as keratoconus. This is where the cornea gradually thins and turns into the shape of a cone. Over time, this leads to vision issues that can be difficult to correct. Keratoconus may necessitate a corneal transplant at some point.4
How to Find Out if You Have Astigmatism
Now, if you notice that you’re squinting a lot in order to be able to see, or if you are getting headaches more often, then you might want to get your eyes checked. An optometrist or ophthalmologist can perform a test to see if you have astigmatism.
There are several types of tests a doctor can perform. Here are just a few:
Refraction is a test using a phoropter, an instrument that shows how your eyes focus light. Another instrument, known as a retinoscope, shows the focusing power of each eye.5
Keratomery is a measurement of the curvature of your corneas. The doctor will focus light on your cornea to determine how much is being reflected.6A tool known as a corneal topographer may also be used to show more detail of the shape of your cornea.7
Visual Acuity Test
The visual acuity test is probably the one with which you’re most familiar. This is where you are shown different sizes of letters, symbols, or numbers that are projected on a wall, or on an eye chart. You’ll then be asked to read those letters.8
How Astigmatism is Addressed
If your eye doctor determines you have astigmatism, you’ll likely have lots of questions, including “What is astigmatism?” Your optometrist or ophthalmologist will be able to answer these questions in detail. They’ll also be able to recommend the type of correction that’s best for you.
These are a few potential options:
You might need to wear prescription glasses to correct your astigmatism. The way your lenses are curved will help to compensate for the curvature issues affecting your eyes.9
2. Contact Lenses
Many people prefer to wear contact lenses rather than glasses. In fact, some people see better with contacts. You may be able to wear soft lenses if you have astigmatism. However, a hard lens may do a better job of compensating for an irregularly curved cornea.10
One option for contacts is known as orthokeratology. This involves the use of rigid lenses that are worn overnight and then removed. However, it’s not a permanent fix. If you don’t wear the lenses each night, your blurred vision will eventually return.11
3. Laser Surgery
In some instances, a doctor may recommend laser surgery in order to permanently reshape the cornea. LASIK (laser in situ keratomileuses), for example, is used to remove tissue from the inner portion of the cornea.12
A Clear Vision for the Future
So, what is astigmatism? As you now know, it’s a common condition that can lead to blurred vision and, in some instances, headaches and other vision issues. But the good news is that, in most cases, it can be easily corrected.
If you are experiencing vision issues, visit an eye doctor as soon as you can. You don’t want to continue down the path of imperfect vision. A professional can come up with the right plan to address it.
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