Astigmatism is blurred vision that is caused by an irregularly formed cornea (the transparent layer of the eye that covers the iris) or eye lens. In this condition, light rays entering the eye focus incorrectly on the retina and cause a fuzzy image. Along with myopia, hyperopia and presbyopia, astigmatism comes from refractive errors.
Here are a few of the most common ways people know that they have astigmatism.
- Distorted vision when looking at objects far and near
- Light sensitivity
- Recurrent headaches
- Eye strain when working long hours reading or writing
What exactly causes these symptoms?
Corneal Astigmatism: An irregularly shaped cornea can be one cause of astigmatism. What causes an irregular curvature, though? While it isn’t known for certain, genetics are thought to play a part. People tend to be at high risk for astigmatism in other circumstances, too. Premature babies are at a higher risk. Sometimes, eye injuries or eye surgeries scar a portion of the cornea, leading to astigmatism.
Lenticular astigmatism: Here, astigmatism is caused by the irregular curvature of the lens rather than the cornea. Diabetic people and other people with high blood sugar levels can tend to see changes in the shape of their eye lenses, too. Nevertheless, lenticular astigmatism is usually reversible.
What you can do about it
Wearing Glasses: Spectacles prescribed for astigmatism are able to correct this refractive error for as long as they are worn. While regular prescriptions only measure the spherical component, prescriptions for astigmatism list two additional ones – the cylindrical measurement and the axis component.
Contact Lenses: Contact lenses for correcting astigmatism come in both rigid and soft varieties. Rigid contacts are longer lasting (up to a year).
Users of contact lenses for astigmatism need to be extra careful putting their lenses on. These lenses need regular care, too. These are usually worn during the day and should be taken off and cleaned nightly.
Orthokeratology can treat mild astigmatism. It requires specifically made rigid gas-permeable contacts that correct astigmatism by reshaping one’s cornea. These are typically worn at night and removed. The cornea gets reshaped and retains its shape through the day.
There are several kinds of surgical methods to treat astigmatism. With an eye care specialist such as Optimax, you have a range of surgery choices to consider.
Laser refractive surgery: This surgical method uses a laser to reshape the cornea. There are three different kinds of laser surgery.
LASIK (Laser-Assisted InSitu Keratomileusis): Here, a small section of the cornea is cut and lifted and the laser applied to it. The flap is then replaced and allowed to heal. The patient can return work the next day.
LASEK (Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis): In this procedure, the cornea’s outer layer (epithelium) is loosened with the help of an alcohol solution. The laser is applied after the epithelium is moved to a side to expose the cornea, making it a ‘no blade’ treatment.
PRK (Excimer Laser Photorefractive Keratectomy): This procedure simply removes the epithelial cells of the cornea to allow access to the entire cornea to permit its reshaping. For people with thin corneas or those who wear contacts, LASEK and PRK are the most preferred modes of laser surgery for astigmatism.
Toric intraocular lens implant: This is considered a much more severe measure. In this instance, the doctor replaces the eye’s natural lens with an artificial lens that focuses light correctly.