Astigmatism: What does that mean??

Of the five senses, vision is probably the most taken for granted and least thought about, that is until you go to an Optometrist and hear that you have astigmatism. “What does that mean?” you think, and hopefully ask. Astigmatism is one of the most common problems with vision.  Astigmatism occurs when the cornea or lens has stretched or simply formed into an irregular shape. Whereas a “normal” cornea is round, the cornea is oblong when there is astigmatism.

What this means is light will not hit the eye as it should: a refractive error occurs due to the oblong shape, resulting in difficulty in reading and viewing objects up close.  Additionally viewing object from a distance may also become difficult and blurry.

Astigmatism is part of a group of related eye conditions, known as refractive errors. This group also includes myopia, which is more commonly known as short-sightedness; and hypermetropia, or long-sightedness. So if you have astigmatism then you are more likely to have of these conditions as well.

The good news is this condition can be treated with a variety of options depending on if it presents as invasive or non- invasive. The treatment can be as simple as wearing glasses and/or contact lenses to correct your vision; or if you prefer a more in depth solution you can undergo LASIK surgery. LASIK surgery is a refractive surgery that addresses not your astigmatism but also myopia and hypermetropia. The surgeon re-shapes the cornea to improve visual acuity.

If surgery is not an option you wish to use, then contact lenses may appeal to you. Toric contact lenses are what is typically prescribed for anyone who has astigmatism. What makes this contact lens different from the traditional contact lens is the thicker zone at the bottom. This added thickness keeps the lenses from rotating and provides a consistent positioning while on the eye.

So astigmatisms are nothing to be concerned over. As we grow older our eyes, along with our bodies ages and deteriorates. If you are already wearing glasses or contact lenses then this condition should be identified during a regular check up. However, if you find you are beginning to experience headaches and notice a change in the quality of your eyesight then it is  recommended you see your optometrist.  By the way, this condition is hereditary, so if anyone in your family has astigmatism you should be sure to inform your optometrist.

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