What Is Astigmatism? - First Eye Care North Arlington

What Is Astigmatism?

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Irregular Eye Shape Leads to Astigmatism

The human eye is a complex and vital organ. Without it, we would not have our sense of sight, which would make simple and easy everyday tasks extremely difficult or virtually impossible. Unfortunately, our vision is often threatened by a whole host of diseases and conditions. While many eye diseases threaten the health of your eyes and may lead to blindness, many are far tamer.

Most eye conditions lead to vision conditions that require some form of vision correction. The overall health of your eyes and your vision are not under much threat by many of these conditions. One such eye condition happens to be astigmatism. An estimated 33% of the U.S. population has astigmatism to some degree that requires correction.

With such a large amount of people dealing with astigmatism, it’s important to get a better understanding of the condition. The more you know, the better able you are to improve and protect your vision. If you struggle with astigmatism, or you just need a comprehensive eye exam to inspect your eyes for any conditions, contact First Eye Care North Arlington.

Causes of Astigmatism 

As we have briefly touched on, astigmatism is a common vision problem that often requires some vision correction. Almost the majority of the public has this condition to a degree, but not everyone needs vision correction.

It is important to remember that astigmatism is not a disease. It is a refractive error caused by irregularities most commonly found in your eye’s cornea, which is the thin, transparent layer that covers the front of your eye. Typically, the cornea has a symmetrically round shape, much like a ball. However, with astigmatism, the cornea’s shape is asymmetrical, appearing more oval, much like an egg. This irregular shape impacts how your vision works, causing light to unevenly focus on the retina.

In some cases, an irregular lens shape can also cause astigmatism. Similar to irregular corneas, a distorted lens alters the way light refracts on your retina. This type of astigmatism is referred to as lenticular astigmatism. Moreover, when the cornea is misshapen, it is known as corneal astigmatism.

It is very common to experience this condition along with either nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia), which are both refractive errors, as well.

Astigmatism is typically present at birth, but it can develop as you grow up. Interestingly, genetics play a large role in the development of this condition. Additionally, a condition known as keratoconus can also cause astigmatism by thinning the cornea, resulting in a cone-like bulge.

Symptoms 

  • Blurred, distorted vision (either up close or far away)
  • Eye Strain
  • Headaches
  • Squinting
  • Trouble seeing at night
  • Eye irritation

If you experience one or more of these symptoms, contact First Eye Care North Arlington. The best way to protect your vision is by receiving comprehensive eye exams regularly.

Diagnosing Astigmatism 

It is fairly easy for your eye doctor to diagnose this eye condition. However, astigmatism’s symptoms typically appear gradually. It’s important to visit your eye doctor as soon as you notice any changes in your vision, either subtle or major. Your optometrist will conduct a comprehensive eye exam, which will involve a number of different tests, including:

  • Visual Acuity Assessment: Arguably the simplest of the tests, your doctor will have you read letters on a chart from specific distances to determine how clearly you see them.
  • Refraction Test: Using a machine called an optical refractor, your eye doctor will have you read a chart while looking through multiple corrective lenses of different strengths to determine which properly corrects your vision.
  • Keratometry: Your doctor will use a keratometer to measure the curvature of your cornea to measure the proper fit for your contact lenses.

Treatments 

After your eye doctor has accurately diagnosed your condition and has determined how advanced your astigmatism is, they will begin developing an effective treatment plan. Many people only experience mild cases of astigmatism, which require little to no treatment. As we have already mentioned, most people have astigmatism to some degree, but not everyone’s vision is greatly affected.

However, if you are part of the group that does require vision correction, your doctor may do so by utilizing one of the following methods:

  • Corrective Lenses: This includes both eyeglasses and contact lenses. Most people tend to choose eyeglasses as their preferred method of vision correction. The lenses of your glasses will possess special prescriptions that compensate for your condition. However, many people find more success and comfortability using contact lenses. Not only do contacts provide clear vision, but they also offer a wider field of view. A special type of soft contacts will be used to help properly bend light on your retina.
  • Orthokeratology (Ortho-K): Ortho-K is a treatment option that utilizes special rigid contact lenses that temporarily fix the irregularities of your cornea. Typically, Ortho-K lenses are worn during sleep and removed during the day. While only temporary, you may experience clear vision while undergoing Ortho-K, even without the help of corrective lenses. However, Ortho-K will not permanently fix your condition, so you must continue the treatment in order to see results.
  • Surgery: Refractive surgery is another option many people opt for. This surgery involves the use of lasers or small knives to reshape your cornea to its proper form. Surgery will permanently correct your astigmatism. You should discuss with your eye doctor if surgery is right for you.

Importance of Eye Exams

As we have said time and time again, regularly receiving a comprehensive eye exam is the best way to protect your eye health and vision from many vision-threatening conditions. Your eye doctor will be able to accurately diagnose your conditions and help you find a treatment option that best suits your needs. Astigmatism is just one of the many eye diseases and conditions treated at First Eye Care North Arlington. If you begin to experience any changes in your vision, whether minor or major, contact us to schedule your next eye exam.

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