Eye Care EducationWhat Is Astigmatism? How Can It Be Avoided?

According to Cleveland Clinic, about one in three people suffer from an eye condition known as astigmatism. What is astigmatism, and how can it be avoided?

What Is Astigmatism?

Our eyes are roughly spherical. When light enters the cornea (the protective clear outer layer of the eye), it refracts and hits the receptors in the back of our eye, which are called the retina. If the eye isn’t perfectly sphere-shaped, that light is unevenly refracted and doesn’t land on the retina correctly. This is called corneal astigmatism. There’s also the less common lenticular astigmatism, which occurs when the eye’s lens has flaws that negatively affect the refraction of light on the retina. It’s possible to have both kinds. Neither is contagious.

Astigmatism is one type of refractive error. Others include myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and presbyopia (difficulty focusing on close objects.)

What are the Symptoms of Astigmatism?

Astigmatism results in a number of ocular tissues. This includes primarily blurry and distorted vision, eye strain, or a combination of the two. The eye strain occurs because we’re trying to focus our eyes more sharply in order to compensate for the astigmatic distortion. Prolonged eye strain can lead to headaches. Squinting is also an indicator of astigmatism.

Risk Factors

You’re more at risk of developing astigmatism if you are black or Hispanic, if your mother smoked during pregnancy, or if you’re already nearsighted or farsighted.

Treatment Options

Mild astigmatism is common and doesn’t require treatment. There are a number of treatment options for more serious astigmatism cases. The most common is corrective lenses. This can be eyeglasses or contact lenses. There are special contact lenses for astigmatism called toric lenses, which aren’t shaped for perfect spherical eyes. They account for the different shapes of astigmatic corneas. They’re shaped a bit like a donut sliced in half.

Other treatment options include:

  • Orthokeratology (ortho-k): This treatment process involves the wearing of a series of specially designed contact lenses that are rigid enough to gradually reshape the curve of the cornea.
  • Laser surgery: This treatment uses a laser to remove parts of eye tissue to change the shape of the cornea. There are two types of laser surgery options – LASIK or PRK

Why Choose the Eye Center of Northern Colorado for Pediatric Eye Care?

Dr. Sarah Galt is the Eye Center of Northern Colorado’s provider of comprehensive optometric care for pediatric patients, patients with special needs, and adults with binocular vision anomalies. Whether your child has been going to the eye doctor for years or it’s their first appointment, our pediatric team in Northern Colorado is the best choice for your family and your child’s eye care needs. Contact us today if you have any further questions about our pediatric eye care services or want to schedule an appointment. We look forward to hearing from you!

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