Astigmatism is an eye condition that is quite common and affects many Canadians. It directly affects the eye’s vision and how it interprets visual information.
So what is astigmatism?
Astigmatism is essentially a refractive error in the eye caused by your eye’s shape; it’s a problem that effects your eye’s ability to focus light, resulting in blurred or distorted vision. Astigmatism can be generally classified as regular or irregular astigmatism, but there are multiple types of astigmatism:
- Hyperopic (farsighted) astigmatism
- Myopic (nearsighted) astigmatism
- Mixed (combination) astigmatism
What causes astigmatism?
There’s not an exact “cause” for astigmatism, but you are more likely to have it if you do not have a completely symmetrically-round eye. Naturally, the cornea or lens should have a spherical curve; however, with astigmatism, the eye may have a more oval or football shaped curve.
Astigmatism is not like a disease that you develop, but it can be associated with diseases such as keratoconus. In fact, astigmatism is hereditary, so if you have it, it could be due to genetics; astigmatism can be present from birth and can gradually improve or worsen as you get older. In addition, if you’ve had any recent eye surgeries that are more invasive, like cataract surgery, you are also more likely to develop astigmatism.
What are symptoms of astigmatism?
Besides blurred and distorted vision, astigmatism can cause these other symptoms:
How do you treat astigmatism?
Your optometrist can treat astigmatism by one of two ways:
- Contact lenses/glasses – A less invasive method of treating astigmatism is simply wearing prescription contacts or glasses that can correct your vision.
- Refractive surgery – Refractive surgery is more invasive than prescription lenses, but the process can re-shape your cornea to give it a rounder shape. This is a more viable option for patients who do not have any additional eye complications.