Astigmatism is a common phenomenon with an effective correction added to one's glasses or contact lenses, called a cylinder, and it occurs when the eye is not a perfect sphere, but rather has elements that are more oval shaped.
Astigmatism is very common and is the result of an irregular shape or curvature of a person’s cornea or lens. The cornea is the clear part that covers the surface of the eye and contributes greatly to the visual system. If a person has an astigmatism, it means his eye is not perfectly round, but rather it is more oval shaped. This affects how light focuses on the retina, which is the light sensitive layer at the back of the eye. If you are not seeing clearly or you’re experiencing blurry vision, please schedule an eye exam with your eye doctor who can diagnose and treat an astigmatism.
Astigmatism is not a serious condition and it is actually quite common so your doctor will let you know if you have it. Checking for astigmatism is an integral part of the routine eye exam. It’s helpful to know if you have an astigmatism because once the eye doctor diagnoses it, it can easily be corrected by adding a special correction called the cylinder into the patient’s prescription for glasses or contact lenses. Once the eye doctor finds an astigmatism then a more suitable prescription can be given to you which will allow you to see more clearly, as an uncorrected astigmatism causes blurry vision.
The eye doctor will check your visual acuity and will do refraction which is the standard method used to find a person’s correct optical correction prescribed in the glasses or contact lenses. The eye doctor may also use devices such as a keratometer or a corneal topographer in order to measure the curvature of your cornea. Corneal topography is especially useful when fitting contact lenses on a patient.
There is no way to prevent astigmatism as it is part of the anatomy of the eye, but there are various treatment plans. Astigmatism is treated with glasses that have a cylinder component which is there to specifically correct the astigmatism and allows the light to properly bend on an eye that’s not spherical. Some people who are qualified to wear contact lenses may prefer going that route, but it really depends on the person and their preferences. There are different types of contact lenses for people with astigmatism. A contact lens that has a cylinder in it to correct an astigmatism is called a toric lens.
There is a very special type of contact lens, called orthokeratology (ortho-k for short) which acts like a retainer and temporarily corrects refractive errors. People sleep with their ortho-k lenses which reshape their cornea during the night. Upon awakening, the lenses are removed and the person is able to see clearly for most of the duration of the day. This is a temporary vision correction as the person needs to wear these lenses every night in order to maintain the effect the next day. Once the ortho-k lenses are no longer used, the vision goes back to its original state.
A permanent method for correcting astigmatism is laser eye surgery, also known as refractive surgery. For example, LASIK is a procedure which reshapes the cornea to correct astigmatism and/ or other refractive errors. Please schedule a consultation with your eye doctor to find out if you’re a qualified candidate for refractive surgery and to figure out the best treatment plan for your needs.
Astigmatism is a common component of some people’s optical correction, as a result of an irregular shape or curvature of the cornea or lens. If you are experiencing blurry vision or any other symptoms, please schedule an eye exam so that you can find out if you have an astigmatism and be provided with the proper correction.