Understanding Astigmatism

Did you know that 1 in 3 Americans have an astigmatism?

What exactly is astigmatism? Simply put, an astigmatism is caused by an irregular curve in the eye’s cornea or lens. Imagine the eye being shaped like a basketball. With an astigmatism, the eye is shaped more like a football.

This imperfect shape can occur in two ways. When the eye is shaped like a football lying on its side, it is considered a astigmatism. When it’s shaped like a football sitting on its tip, this is considered an against-the-rule astigmatism.

So why is this an issue? When the eye is shaped normally, the cornea and lens are smooth and equally curved in all directions. The eye is able to focus light rays sharply onto the retina in the back of the eye. With an irregular curvature that comes with astigmatism, the light rays aren’t able to be refracted properly, causing blurred or distorted vision from near and far distances.

There are two variations of astigmatism. Corneal astigmatism happens when the shape of the cornea is distorted. Similarly lenticular astigmatism happens when the shape of the lens is distorted. In both cases, objects both near and far appear blurry and distorted.

Though cases of astigmatism occur in various age groups, its likelihood can increase based on family history and prior eye conditions or injuries.

Common symptoms of this condition include blurred vision, eye discomfort and headaches. Astigmatism can be diagnosed during a comprehensive eye exam. Upon diagnosis, your eye care provider will be able to determine what type of lenses are needed to correct your vision. In more severe cases, refractive surgery is an option, which will permanently correct your astigmatism.

To detect and treat astigmatism, it’s important to have regular eye exams and keep an eye on your vision health.

The information contained above is intended to be educational in nature, does not constitute medical advice, and should not be relied on as a substitute for actual professional medical advice, care or treatment. If you have any vision, dental or other health related concerns, VBA encourages you to immediately contact your optometrist/ophthalmologist, dentist/orthodontist or any other competent, licensed, medical professional.