Astigmatism is a form of refractive error that a person develops when there are some irregularities in the shape of the cornea. When a person experiences this condition, his or her eye fails to properly focus the light evenly on the retina, thereby resulting in a distorted or blurred vision. The condition may be present at birth or may develop gradually over time in the course of a person’s life. The condition commonly occurs with nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia). Fortunately, a simple eye exam can help to diagnose the problem. Please note that astigmatism is simply a refractive error and not a disease of the eye. With that in mind, let’s look at the causes of astigmatism.
While the causes of astigmatism are not clear, genetics is a major risk factor. The condition is often present at birth. However, an individual may also develop it later in life. Other causes include injury or trauma to the eye, especially following eye surgery. The condition commonly occurs with another refractive error like nearsightedness or farsightedness. the following are some of the risk factors:
- Thinning or scarring of the cornea
- A family history of the condition
- Other eye disorders like keratoconus, a condition characterized by cornea degeneration
- Excessive farsightedness or nearsightedness that creates blurry vision when far or near an object
- Certain types of eye surgery, including cataract surgery to remove clouded lenses
Signs and symptoms
Some of the signs and symptoms of astigmatism may include trouble seeing things at night, eyestrain, headaches, distorted vision, and blurry vision.
Astigmatism is diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam carried out by a specialized eye doctor such as an optometrist or ophthalmologist. People who have vision problems or have developed eye diseases often visit an optometrist who diagnoses the problem and recommends the best treatment plan. You may have to undergo several tests during an eye exam to properly diagnose astigmatism. These tests may include refractive test, visual acuity assessment test, and keratometry.
While mild cases of this condition may not require any treatment, moderate to extreme cases may require treatment in various forms. The most common form of treatment is the use of corrective contact lenses or eyeglasses as prescribed by your optometrist or eye doctor. These are the least invasive treatment options for astigmatism. Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) is another form of treatment that involves using rigid contact lenses for temporary correction of the cornea’s irregular curvature. The patient wears rigid lenses for a specific period of time, for instance, only when sleeping at night and removing them during the day. Surgery is often the last option and can be more intrusive than other treatment methods. Severe cases may require surgery using lasers to reshape the patient’s cornea. Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), LASIK, and radial keratotomy (RK) are some of the surgical procedures that may be used to treat astigmatism. Talk to your doctor before considering any surgical procedure because there are risks involved.
Therefore, astigmatism is not an eye disease but a refractive error. The problem may not require treatment but some severe cases may require an optometrist’s intervention. The condition may occur with other refractive errors. Get in touch with Greenlake Eye Care Eye Doctors as soon as you experience any signs of astigmatism.