Dr. Jim Martin 05/09/2014

1778570_orig.pngAstigmatism is a vision condition that results in blurred vision through a misshapen cornea or a tilted lens inside the eye. Astigmatism is an extremely common vision condition, with most people having some degree of it.

How does astigmatism affect sight?

A cornea or lens that is irregularly shaped keeps light from focusing correctly on the retina, which is the light sensitive surface at the rear of the eye. This phenomenon causes blurry vision at any distance. Typically mild astigmatism does not affect vision or require treatment while severe astigmatism results in blurred or distorted vision, headaches, and eye discomfort.

Astigmatism often presents alongside other vision conditions including myopia or nearsightedness and hyperopia or farsightedness. Myopia or hyperopia in combination with astigmatism is known as a refractive error because of its effect on how the eye “refracts” or bends light.

How can you treat astigmatism?

Every comprehensive eye exam includes astigmatism testing. During an eye exam, an eye doctor may test for visual acuity (reading letters on a chart), keratometry (measuring the corneal curvature), and refraction (measuring how the eyes focus light). The eye doctor uses the information from these tests to determine if astigmatism is present.

The level of astigmatism determines the type of eyeglasses or contact lenses that an eye care professional will prescribe to ensure clear, comfortable vision. Eyeglasses and contact lenses can correct astigmatism by altering the way that light enters the eyes. These corrective lenses will contain a prescription to compensate for the astigmatism, which offers added lens power for specific lens meridians.

Typically a single vision lens is adequate for offering clear vision at all distances. Individuals age 40 and older who have presbyopia may need bifocal or progressive lens in order to focus on close-up work properly and still see off into the distance clearly.

Another popular option for treating astigmatism is orthokeratology (ortho-k), which is a non-invasive, painless corneal modification procedure. Orthokeratology consists of wearing a set of specially-designed rigid contact lenses that slowly reshape the corneal curvature over time. These lenses are worn for short periods of time, such as overnight, and then removed.

For certain types of astigmatism, laser surgery may be a potential option. Laser surgery consists of using a highly focused laser beam on the eye's surface to remove a small quantity of eye tissue. This process alters the corneal shape.

If you believe that you or a loved one has astigmatism, don't hesitate to get the help that you need from the Amarillo eye care professionals at Broome Optical. They provide state-of-the-art eye care for a wide range of eye conditions from glaucoma to macular degeneration to retinopathy. Make an appointment today and see what they can do to improve your vision health.

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