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What Is Astigmatism and How Do You Treat It?

Astigmatism is classified as a refractive error, just like myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness). Refractive errors are problems with how your eyes focus light on the retina – the light sensitive part of the eye. In astigmatism, this can lead to blurry or distorted vision at all distances.

If you or someone you know has astigmatism, the following are general information on the vision problem and treatment for astigmatism.

What is Astigmatism?

To better understand astigmatism, let’s review how our eyes work. Light passes through the cornea and lens and is then focused on the retina. The retina changes the light to signals that are passed through the optical nerves to the brain. The brain then interprets those signals into the images that we see.

In individuals with astigmatism, the light that passes through the eye is unevenly focused on the retina. The retina will use the distorted light to form the signals that is then transmitted to the brain. Because these distortions are also in the signal, the brain interprets them into blurry images. This refractive error is caused by irregularities in the shape of the cornea (corneal astigmatism) or the lens (lenticular astigmatism).

While the specific causes of astigmatism are still unknown, genetics is a big part of it. Astigmatism can exist at birth or can develop later in life. It can also develop after an eye injury and in some cases, after eye surgery.

Detection

It is possible to have mild astigmatism and not know it until you have an eye exam. However there are some symptoms that can help you determine if you may have astigmatism and need to visit your eye care specialist:

  • Distorted or blurry vision regardless of distance
  • Eyestrain or headache after prolonged vision based activity (like reading or using a computer)
  • Difficulty with night driving

Even if you do not have the symptoms, it is recommended to get a regular eye exam for yourself to detect any vision problems or eye diseases.

Treatment

Your eye care specialist can examine your eyes and give you different options on how to correct astigmatism depending on its type and severity. You can select the option that best suits your needs and budget. Here are some treatment options you might want to explore:

  • Corrective glasses and contact lenses are the most common, non-invasive treatment and can be used for mild or severe astigmatism. Various lens materials and frames are available for corrective glasses and you can easily find one that best suits you.
  • Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) or corneal reshaping is a solution that uses special rigid contact lenses that are worn overnight to gently reshape the cornea. This will allow people with astigmatism to have normal vision without the use of corrective lenses or surgery. However, the effects are temporary and the patient must continuously wear the Ortho-K lenses at night to enjoy its effects the next day.
  • Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis or LASIK is a surgical procedure and more permanent solution for astigmatism, myopia, and hyperopia. With the use of a laser, the corneas are reshaped to eliminate refractive errors. However, LASIK is not fit for all patients and your doctor can diagnose if it is right for you.

If you have astigmatism or think you may have it, make an appointment at Planet Vision Eyecare in Greenacres, FL. Dr. Hetel Bhakta has experience in the treatment of astigmatism and is able to diagnose, treat, and give referrals for the given treatments. Make an appointment now and keep your eyes healthy and your vision clear.