According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 1 billion people have some sort of visual impairment caused by untreated refractive errors like astigmatism. This means that so many people all over the world aren’t able to maximize their sense of sight. Let’s learn more about astigmatism causes and remedies here.
What is Astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a fairly common condition that causes a person’s vision to be blurry or distorted. This condition is called a “refractive error,” which is a vision problem that results from irregularities in the shape of your eye that affect how your eye “bends” or “refracts” light in order to see clearly.
When a person has astigmatism, the front surface of the eye, known as the cornea or the lens, has irregularities in its curvature. This prevents light from properly focusing on one point of the retina, which causes blurry vision regardless of how near or far you are from something. Astigmatism is often accompanied by other refractive errors, namely:
- Myopia or nearsightedness
- Hyperopia or farsightedness
A typical and healthy eye has a curvature similar to a perfectly round ball, while an eye with astigmatism is shaped like an egg. Adults who develop astigmatism can usually detect a change in the way they see things around them.
Children who have acquired astigmatism at birth may not be able to tell the difference, which is why it’s important to have them undergo regular eye exams to determine any problems.What are the Symptoms of Astigmatism?
The most common symptom of astigmatism is having blurry or distorted vision. If you notice your eyesight becoming blurry, it may also be a sign of other vision problems like nearsightedness or farsightedness. Other symptoms of astigmatism include:
- Squinting to improve vision
- General discomfort in the eyes
How is Astigmatism Diagnosed?
Only a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist can perform a comprehensive eye exam needed to diagnose astigmatism or any vision problems. When an ophthalmologist or optometrist tests for astigmatism, they look into how your eye focuses on light. An eye examination may include the following tests:
Visual Acuity Test
This test measures a person’s visual acuity by determining the smallest letters they can read on a visual acuity chart, which can be letters or photos. Usually, the doctor will ask you to cover one eye while you attempt to read the smallest letters on the chart.
This eye exam will measure how well your eyes are able to focus. During this test, the doctor will ask you to sit on a chair with a “phoropter” or “refractor” in front of you. You will then look through the phoropter and try to name all the letters on an eye chart located six meters away from you.
The doctor will change the lens for both eyes and will ask you which looks clearer or blurrier, in order to determine the strength needed for your prescription glasses.
Eye exams will also make use of a “keratometer,” which is a device that measures the curvature of the cornea and it will tell the doctor about the ideal fit for contact lenses if you opt to get them. The curvature of the cornea will also help determine astigmatism in either of the eyes.
Astigmatism Causes and Remedies
After understanding its symptoms, you can learn more about astigmatism causes and remedies.
Most people have some degree of astigmatism that doesn’t require treatment, caused by slight irregularities in their eye shapes. In fact, it’s uncommon to come across a perfectly round eye. Although there isn’t a direct cause of astigmatism, research has shown that astigmatism is hereditary. Meaning, if someone in your family has this vision problem, then you’re more likely to develop it.
Astigmatism can also develop after surgery or eye-related disease or injury. Contrary to popular belief, astigmatism isn’t directly caused by bad habits like reading without enough light or sitting too close to the television.
Astigmatism can also be related to a condition called “keratoconus,” which happens when the cornea thins out and becomes cone-shaped, resulting in blurry vision and light sensitivity.
How is Astigmatism Treated?
When astigmatism in the eyes is enough to cause a person discomfort or causes difficulty in daily activities, then treatment is usually done to improve vision or ease discomfort. Options for astigmatism treatment include:
A person diagnosed with astigmatism can either opt for having glasses or contact lenses made to suit them. Eyeglasses help bend the light properly to make up for the irregularities in the eyes caused by astigmatism.
Advantages: They’re the cheapest options when it comes to corrective lenses, and you’ll be able to choose from a variety of designs, shapes, and colors.
Disadvantages: They could get lost or broken.
Contact lenses can also come in a variety of shapes and colors, and can be disposable or for long-wear. Some people might prefer contact lenses because of how comfortable they are compared to wearing glasses.
Advantages: More comfortable to wear; it isn’t obvious.
Disadvantages: It may make you prone to eye infections if worn for a longer period of time.
Refractive surgery involves an eye surgeon using laser to correct any irregularities in the eye that may cause refractive errors such as astigmatism.
Advantages: Surgery can permanently reverse the effects of astigmatism.
Disadvantages: This can be more expensive than corrective lenses and involves surgery.
Taking Care of Your Eyes
Although astigmatism is usually acquired through genes or injury, it’s always best to practice good habits to take care of our eyesight. Here are a few ways you can take better care of your eyes:
- Make sure to eat omega-3 rich foods like fish as these fatty acids help maintain eyesight. Green leafy vegetables can help as well.
- Don’t forget to wear sunglasses if you’re outdoors.
- Rest your eyes whenever you’re using them for reading or using your phone or computer to prevent eye strain.
- Don’t forget to wear protective eye gear when playing sports. Wear these as well when doing repair work that may inflict damage to your eyes.
What are astigmatism causes and remedies? Astigmatism is a vision impairment that is caused by irregularities in the curvature of the cornea and lens of the eye. This condition is characterized by blurry or distorted vision. To remedy this, you may either opt for corrective lenses, eye glasses or surgery.
If you suspect that you have astigmatism, consult an optometrist or an ophthalmologist. They can administer a comprehensive eye exam.
Learn more about Eye Health here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.