What Is Astigmatism? Common Symptoms and Treatments
Astigmatism is one of the most common vision problems, which presents a distorted or blurry vision that isn’t limited to when objects are up close or at a distance. While many vision problems are related to whether people have trouble focusing on things that are either right in front of them or far away, astigmatism isn’t limited to these constraints.
What is astigmatism?
This vision problem is related to how the eye focuses light. Astigmatic eyes fail to focus light correctly on a single point in the retina. Because of this, light focuses on multiple points in front or behind the retina — or both — causing blurred or distorted images.
Are you experiencing blurred or distorted vision, the most telltale signs of astigmatism? Learn what astigmatism is and how to treat it so you can restore healthy eyesight.
Different Types of Astigmatism
Because of its many types and causes, many patients wonder what astigmatism is — and whether it explains the vision problems they are experiencing.
In many cases, the condition is caused by irregularities in the cornea’s shape. One meridian — the specific lines that refract the light — is often more curved than it should be; it’s Football-shaped rather than round and symmetrical. In other cases, it’s caused by the shape of the lens itself.
The most common types of astigmatism include:
- Myopic astigmatism occurs when one or both of the principal meridians cause nearsighted vision.
- Hyperopic astigmatism occurs when one or both of the principal meridians cause farsighted vision.
- Mixed astigmatism occurs as a result of one principal meridian being nearsighted and the other farsighted.
But my eyes are healthy — will I develop astigmatism?
Healthy, 20/20 vision is the ideal for everyone, but the fact is, not everyone has it. Vision problems are a lot more common than you think, and they aren’t just caused by ageing — many people suffer from unhealthy eyesight even from a young age.
Astigmatism is one of the most common vision problems that affect people of all ages, and certain factors increase your risk of developing the condition. These include:
- A family history of astigmatism or other eye disorders
- Having thinned or scarred corneas
- Being excessively nearsighted or farsighted
- Having eye surgeries, like cataract surgery
- Some demographics, such as Asian or Hispanic, have been shown to have a propensity towards the condition than others.
Do I have astigmatism — what are the symptoms?
When people ask “what is astigmatism?” it’s often to determine whether they have it and confirm common symptoms that they may already be experiencing. However, like any health condition, astigmatism isn’t the same for everyone. There is a range of symptoms that you may share or might not even display any at all.
Still, it’s essential to know what to look out for. With this list of the most common symptoms of astigmatism, you can take one step towards understanding this condition and the vision problems it’s causing. It may help to explain the episodes of blurred vision you may be experiencing:
- Blurry, fuzzy or distorted vision when viewing objects up close or from a distance
- Difficulty seeing clearly at night
- Eye strain and headaches
- Having to squint to see clearly
Now that you know what astigmatism is — and the most common signs and symptoms that you need to watch out for — the next step is learning about treatment options. The good news is, astigmatism is one of the most treatable and manageable vision problems. Corrective treatments like lenses and laser eye surgery exist to help restore your healthy vision and improve your life quality.
1. Corrective eyeglasses and contact lenses
Like many other vision problems, the most common treatment for astigmatism is prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. Upon diagnosis, your eye doctor will recommend specialized corrective lenses to wear, which are calibrated to compensate for the degree of astigmatism. Wearing these can dramatically improve your vision, allowing you to see clearly.
2. Ortho-K lenses
These specialized lenses are a step above corrective contact lenses. Ortho-K, also known as corneal moulding or reshaping, involves using much more rigid contact lenses to correct the irregular curvature of the cornea, which is causing astigmatism.
You will need to wear the Ortho-K lenses for a specified period, such as overnight, while you sleep, and temporarily reshape the cornea to provide you with clear vision for several hours. Bear in mind that the benefits of Ortho-K lenses are not permanent.
Astigmatic vision will revert to its typical state over the day, so you will need to refresh your eyes overnight by wearing these lenses to bed to enjoy clear vision again the following day.
3. Laser eye surgery
While astigmatism is highly manageable, there’s nothing compared to restoring healthy, crystal clear vision and your quality of life. Laser eye surgery frees you from the constraints of eyeglasses and the periodic re-grading they require. And it eliminates the hassle of wearing Ortho-K lenses to bed every night, only to return to astigmatic vision in a matter of hours.
Laser eye surgery guarantees permanent, life-saving results in restoring your eyesight. It involves reshaping your cornea to correct astigmatism permanently and allow the retina to focus light correctly as it should. Ask your eye doctor whether you are a good candidate, and learn how it can help correct your distorted vision.