What is Astigmatism?
Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment
What Does Astigmatism Look Like?
Astigmatism is a common eye condition that causes blurry vision. This is due to an imperfection where the eye isn’t completely round. Ideally, a perfectly round eyeball should distribute light evenly throughout your cornea for clear vision. If your eye is shaped more like an egg or football, the light entering your eye will bend more in one direction. An eye with a bend or curvature will cause you to see only part of an object in focus, or things at a distance will appear blurry.
Astigmatism is often accompanied by other refractive errors, such as nearsightedness and farsightedness. If you’re having trouble seeing clearly or focusing your vision, schedule an eye exam at your local Pearle Vision EyeCare Center. An eye doctor can help diagnose the problem and recommend the appropriate treatment, such as glasses or contact lenses.
What causes Astigmatism?
AWhile astigmatism is often present at birth, it can also be acquired later in life due to various factors such as eye injury, disease, or surgery. It is important to note that astigmatism is not caused by reading in poor light or staring at a digital screen too closely, as these are mere misconceptions. In rare cases, astigmatism can be caused by an eye condition called keratoconus, which is characterized by a thinning and cone-shaped cornea. This condition can significantly affect the visual acuity of an individual and may require specialized treatment. Schedule your eye exam because no matter the cause, astigmatism is a complex eye condition that requires careful diagnosis and management to ensure optimal visual outcomes.
What Causes Astigmatism to Worsen?
Factors such as reading or working on a computer for extended periods and not wearing corrective lenses as prescribed can strain the eyes and potentially worsen astigmatism. It is important to have regular eye exams and follow the recommended treatment plan to manage astigmatism and prevent it from getting worse.
Signs and symptoms of astigmatism may include:
- Blurry vision
- Eyestrain, including fatigue and burning eyes
- Headaches caused by eyestrain
- Difficulty with night vision
- Squinting to see clearly
- Light sensitivity
- Poor depth perception
- Seeing double
What Does the World Look Like to Someone with Astigmatism?
To someone with astigmatism, the world may appear blurry or distorted, with objects appearing stretched or smeared in a particular direction. The extent of the distortion depends on the severity of the astigmatism.
Mild astigmatism might cause only slight blurring, while more severe astigmatism could lead to significant visual distortions. Unlike nearsightedness and farsightedness, astigmatism causes vision to be blurry at any distance. In some cases, it may also cause you to see double.
How to Test for Astigmatism
There are several astigmatism tests that can be given to assess whether the condition is present.
- Refraction: As the name suggests, this test checks to see if you have a refractive error. During this test, you’ll be asked to look at an eye chart through different lenses. Your eye doctor will then ask you which lens makes your vision clearer.
- Visual acuity: This test measures how well you can see details from a distance using an eye chart to help determine the degree of your astigmatism (if any).
- Keratometry: This test uses a tool called a keratometer to measure the curvature of your cornea.
How to Correct Astigmatism
An eye doctor can help determine whether you have astigmatism, and if so, to what degree. In some minor cases, corrective action may not be needed. However, if your astigmatism is affecting your ability to perform everyday tasks, your eye doctor may prescribe corrective lenses, or recommend surgery. Children born with astigmatism may not know their vision is blurry, therefore it’s important their eyes are screened starting at six months old to diagnose any issues early on. If you or your child are experiencing symptoms of astigmatism, schedule an eye exam. We can run the necessary tests and provide the best course of action to limit the impact of this common condition.