What is Astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a condition in which the eye does not focus all light rays evenly on the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. This results in blurry vision.
Whenever you look at something, light enters the eye and is bent as it passes through one tissue structure to another. The light is bent as it first passes through the cornea, then the lens, before finally focusing on the retina. If any of these structures are irregular in shape, the light will get bent more in one direction than another. This will also occur if your eyeball itself is irregular in shape, having more of an oblong shape, rather than being perfectly round.
What causes it?
Astigmatism is a natural occurrence that most people are born with. However, it can also be acquired and occur after an eye injury, eye disease or surgery.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms associated with astigmatism include blurry vision, eyestrain and headaches, which are more prominent when undergoing prolonged visual tasks. These symptoms can occur when focusing on both short and long distances.
While to you it may just feel like your eyes are tired, or that you’ve been straining your eyes for too long, if you are having any issues at all with your vision, it is always best to get it checked out.
How is it diagnosed?
If you notice any of these symptoms, the best thing you can do is to see an optometrist. Astigmatism can be picked up the same way as nearsightedness and farsightedness, which is during a routine eye exam.
Is it possible to have astigmatism but not be aware?
Yes, it is entirely possible, especially when it comes to children. Kids know what they see as their ‘normal’. They have nothing to compare to which means they don’t question it and problems can actually go unnoticed. This is why scheduling routine eye exams are so important, as they will pick up any areas of concern.
Likewise, adults may also have mild astigmatism with very few symptoms, which means it goes unnoticed and will need an eye exam to pick it up.
How can Astigmatism be corrected?
Astigmatism can be corrected by wearing glasses or contact lenses prescribed by your optometrist. Both of these work by bending the light more in one direction than the other, evening out the meridians to ensure that all light rays can focus equally on your retina.