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What is Astigmatism?

Surrounding your pupil and iris is your cornea, which is, under normal circumstances, round. As light hits the eye from all angles, the cornea's role is to project that light, aiming it at your retina, right in the back of your eye. But what does it mean if the cornea is not exactly round? The eye cannot project the light correctly on a single focal point on your retina's surface, and your vision gets blurred. Such a condition is called astigmatism.

Many individuals have astigmatism and the condition frequently comes with other refractive issues that require vision correction. It oftentimes occurs during childhood and often causes eye strain, headaches and the tendency to squint when untreated. In children, it can lead to difficulty in the classroom, particularly when it comes to highly visual skills such as reading or writing. People who work with fine details or at a computer for extended periods of time might experience more difficulty with astigmatism.

Diagnosis of astigmatism starts with an eye test with an optometrist. Once detected, an automated refraction or a retinoscopy test is performed to check the amount of astigmatism. The condition is commonly tended to by contact lenses or glasses, for those who prefer a non-invasive procedure, or refractive surgery, which alters how that light hits the eye, allowing your retina to get the light properly.

With contact lenses, the patient is usually given toric lenses, which control the way the light bends when it enters the eye. Regular contacts have a tendency to shift when you blink. But with astigmatism, the most subtle eye movement can completely blur your sight. After you blink, toric lenses return to the same place on your eye to avoid this problem. You can find toric contact lenses in soft or hard lenses.

Astigmatism may also be fixed using laser surgery, or by orthokeratology (Ortho-K), a non-surgical alternative that involves the use of special rigid lenses to gradually change the shape of the cornea over night. It's advisable to discuss options with your eye doctor in order to decide what your best choice is for your needs.

A person's astigmatism changes over time, so make sure that you are frequently making appointments to see your optometrist for a proper exam. Additionally, make sure you have your children's eyes checked before they begin school. The majority of your child's education (and playing) is largely a function of their vision. You'll help your child make the best of his or her school year with a comprehensive eye exam, which will diagnose any visual irregularities before they affect education, play, or other activities.


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