- What Is
- Signs and Symptoms
What is astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a type of vision problem due to imperfection in the curvature of the eye's cornea or lens. Hence, the cornea is unable to evenly focus light on the retina (the inner light-sensitive layer of the eye). Those with astigmatism typically have blurred or distorted vision, eye strain and headaches. Astigmatism can coexist in combination with other refractive errors, such as myopia (nearsightedness) and hypermetropia (farsightedness).
What are the signs and symptoms of astigmatism?
Signs and symptoms of astigmatism may include
- Blurred or distorted vision
- Decreased vision at night
Children and adolescents
Young children may not realize their vision is blurry, so a regular eye test is required. School-aged children may have difficulty reading, writing or seeing the blackboard/whiteboard.
What causes astigmatism?
The eye has two curved structures, the cornea and the lens. The cornea is the clear layer on the outer surface of the eye. The lens is a clear structure inside the eye that helps focus light for clear vision. The cornea and lens bend (refract) and focus light on the retina, which makes the images required for vision. In a normal eye, these curved structures are smooth so they can create sharp vision. In astigmatism, the surface of the cornea or lens is not smooth. If either the cornea (corneal astigmatism) or the lens (lenticular astigmatism) is shaped differently, then these mismatched curves bend the light rays at different angles, forming two different images. This results in distorted or blurred vision. Astigmatism is a type of refractive error. The blurred vision may occur in different directions - vertically, horizontally or diagonally.
Astigmatism is usually present from birth, which could be due to genetic predisposition. It can also develop after any eye trauma, disease or surgery. Astigmatism is not caused or worsened by reading in the dark, watching TV for too long or squinting.
How is astigmatism diagnosed?
An eye doctor (ophthalmologist) diagnoses astigmatism by performing a complete eye examination with the help of various kinds of diagnostic equipment.
What is the best way to correct astigmatism?
The goal of treating astigmatism is to improve vision and eye comfort. Treatments options are corrective lenses or refractive surgery.
Wearing corrective lenses is the simplest way to treat astigmatism by counteracting uneven curvatures of the cornea or lens. Corrective lenses may be worn as eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Refractive surgery improves vision and replaces the need to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses. Types of refractive surgery for astigmatism include
- Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK): The eye surgeon creates a thin flap in the cornea. An excimer laser is then used to change the shape of the cornea. The flap is then repositioned.
- Laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy (LASEK): Instead of creating a flap, the cornea is loosened using alcohol. A laser is then used to alter the curvature of the cornea and then the loosened epithelium is repositioned.
- Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK): The epithelium is removed and allowed to grow back naturally, according to the cornea's new shape.
- Epi-LASIK: This is similar to LASEK, but this uses a mechanized blunt blade instead of the alcohol to loosen the cornea.
- Small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE): This is a newer type of refractive surgery that reshapes the cornea by using a laser.
What are the complications of surgery for astigmatism?
The surgeries are relatively safe. Some of the possible complications that may occur after refractive surgery are
- Under correction or overcorrection of the initial refractive error
- Appearance of halos or starbursts around lights
- Dry eyes
- Eye infection
- Vision loss
Can astigmatism be prevented?
Astigmatism is usually present from birth, which could be genetic or may develop after any eye trauma, disease or surgery. Astigmatism is not caused or worsened by reading in the dark or poor lighting; watching TV or other screens for too long; sitting too close to the screen or squinting.
Maintaining a healthy, nutritious diet, avoiding excessive screen time or straining the eyes and protecting the eyes from pollution and injuries can maintain overall eye health. However, there are no specific preventive measures for astigmatism.
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Astigmatism and Your EyesAstigmatism is a common eye condition that's easily corrected by eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery. Symptoms of astigmatism are headaches, fatigue, eyestrain and blurred vision.
AstigmatismAstigmatism is an eye condition in which the cornea is abnormally curved and causes out-of-focus vision. Symptoms of astigmatism may include eye strain, squinting, eye fatigue, and headaches. Most astigmatism arises within the cornea although some forms occur in the lens. Astigmatism is diagnosed via a complete eye exam. Some cases of astigmatism can be treated with corrective eyewear. Astigmatism can also be treated with LASIK surgery.
Astigmatism PictureAstigmatism is a common form of visual impairment in which an image is blurred due to an irregularity in the curvature of the front surface of the eye, the cornea. See a picture of Astigmatism and learn more about the health topic.
Can PRK Surgery Correct Astigmatism?PRK surgery may be done to correct one of these refractive errors: nearsightedness (myopia), difficulty seeing distant objects, farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism - curvature of the cornea or lens is uneven, leading to distorted or blurred vision.
Laser Eye SurgeryHow does LASIK work? Get information on this popular laser eye surgery, the procedure, success rates, and possible vision side effects from LASIK eye surgery.
LASIK Eye SurgeryLASIK (laser in situ keratomileusis) eye surgery is a procedure in which a laser is used beneath the corneal flap to reshape the cornea. This process is used to treat refractive errors, improve vision, and eliminate or reduce the need for contact lenses or glasses. LASIK eye surgery comes in three main types: conventional LASIK, wavefront-optimized LASIK, and wavefront-guided LASIK.
What Type of LASIK is Best for Astigmatism?The individuals suffering from astigmatism must be extra cautious while considering LASIK surgery. Since the surgery involves manipulation and restructuring of the cornea, LASIK and similar procedures can sometimes worsen astigmatism.