Astigmatism is a condition resulting from irregular curvature of the cornea. While a normal cornea is round, when astigmatism is present the cornea is more pointed or oblong, like the end of a football or the back of a spoon. With a normal cornea, light is focused on the retina in a single spot, but with astigmatism, the light is spread unevenly across the retina, causing visual distortions. Often this results in only one part of an object being in focus at a time, or for objects at a distance to appear blurry or wavy.
Astigmatism is usually found in conjunction with myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness). This common condition is treated by corrective eyeglasses or specialized contacts, or through surgery.
Symptoms of Astigmatism
The primary symptoms of astigmatism are blurry vision at all distances, and eyestrain that often leads to headaches. These symptoms may be the result of a number of other visual problems, so the best way to diagnose astigmatism is with a thorough eye examination.
Causes of Astigmatism
The exact cause of astigmatism is not known, but it is a commonly occurring condition affecting approximately 28% of children between the ages of 5 and 17. Astigmatism may be present from birth or it may develop slowly. Astigmatism may develop after an eye injury, disease, or surgery. Astigmatism can increase over time, so if you notice any changes in your vision, you should see your eye doctor.
Your eye doctor can diagnose astigmatism using a refractive evaluation. This test shows how light is focused on the retina at distance and near. Visual acuity tests can determine the practical impact of astigmatism - how it affects your ability to see clearly at all distances. Your eye doctor will perform other tests to determine your eye coordination, muscle control and your ability to change focus.
Treatment of Astigmatism
There are two types of astigmatism, “normal” and irregular. In the case of normal astigmatism, corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses can be prescribed to allow proper vision. Very minor cases may not even require vision correction, as long as nearsightedness or farsightedness is not an issue. When either nearsightedness or farsightedness is present, corrective lenses adapt for both conditions.
Cases of irregular astigmatism are far less common, usually resulting from abnormal conditions like keratoconus. For irregular astigmatism, treatment is more effective with rigid gas permeable contact lenses or corneal procedures like refractive surgery.
If you are searching for a skilled eye doctor in the Chicago area, please contact Foulkes Vision in Lombard, Illinois to schedule your consultation with our ophthalmologist: 630-724-1400.