What is Astigmatism?
What is Astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a common eye condition. About one in three people have it, and it generally causes blurry vision according to the National Eye Institute. Astigmatism is easily treatable with corrective lenses. It affects the cornea. You can think of the cornea as a clear dome on the surface of your eye. The dome needs to be shaped evenly to have clear eyesight. With astigmatism, the dome is slightly misshapen, almost like an oval instead of a circle. This is called corneal astigmatism.
Light travels through the cornea before reaching the rest of your eye. A properly shaped cornea will focus light rays to a single point, giving you well-focused eyesight. With a misshapen cornea, the light refracts and causes distorted vision. The refractive error can also cause eye strain.
Lenticular astigmatism is a similar but less common condition that affects the eye’s lens rather than the cornea. Glasses can treat both types.
Is there an Astigmatism Test?
Astigmatism is diagnosed during a standard eye exam. Your doctor might use a visual acuity test to check your vision, which includes reading letters on a chart across the room. If you have astigmatism, the letters will likely be blurry.
Your eye doctor will also determine if you have with-the-rule astigmatism or against-the-rule astigmatism. With-the-rule astigmatism means the cornea is misshapen horizontally while against is misshapen vertically. Your doctor will use this info to provide an effective glasses prescription.
Blurred vision is one of the most common astigmatism symptoms, but you may also notice headaches because of refractive errors. Cases of severe astigmatism may have more intense symptoms than slight astigmatism — you should talk to an optometrist if you’re experiencing painful symptoms.
What is a Good Treatment for Astigmatism?
Prescription glasses are the best treatment for astigmatism. After an exam, your doctor can prescribe lenses that give you clear vision. Prescription astigmatism glasses will adjust how light enters your cornea, ensuring it’s accurately focused so your eyesight isn’t distorted.
Wearing contact lenses can also treat astigmatism. Some soft lenses (known as toric lenses) have a donut-like shape that fixes vision distortion. Glasses or contacts are both great ways to correct astigmatism.
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