Astigmatism is also one of those confusing medical terms that people don’t know the meaning of and also don’t dare ask. In actual fact if you have read our article on Myopia and Hyperopia then you are already halfway there to understanding what astigmatism is.
What is astigmatism?
So, what exactly is astigmatism? A normal, healthy eye usually has a spherical cornea that covers the front of the eye. This shape allows the light to be reflected perfectly to the back of the eye, the retina, where the brain will recognize the image. In the case of an eye that has astigmatism the cornea that covers the front is abnormally shaped. This results in the light being unequally reflected onto the retina. When the light is focused unequally it will have various focal points in front of, and behind, the retina. Resulting in blurry vision, regardless if objects are nearby, or far away.
Another type of astigmatism affects the lens instead of the cornea. In this case the lens is abnormally shaped which results in the same thing as with a misshapen cornea. The light is incorrectly reflected and thus one or multiple focal points occur at the wrong place. I.e. Not on the retina.
How its different form Myopia and Hyperopia
When we think of the differences between these three it would be best to describe it according to the defects each gives rise to. Myopia causes the vision to become blurry when objects are far away. Hyperopia, on the other hand, makes things blurry when they are close up. Now, general astigmatism is a combination of both of these problems. Objects near and far are blurry because the light in the eye is focused on various places.
What causes it and how is it diagnosed?
There are a few things that can cause astigmatism, namely: Genetics – usually your genetics plays a big part in the condition of our eyes throughout our life. Sometimes we get lucky and will never have the need for vision correction, and other times we are not so lucky, in which case we need to have the problem fixed. Something way easier to do now, as opposed to 1000 years ago. Injury is another by which astigmatism can occur.
In order to be sure whether you have astigmatism, the best thing to do is to visit an ophthalmologist, who will conduct various tests on the condition of your eye and then conclude whether astigmatism is present or if it could be some other problem.
Symptoms of astigmatism include:
If any of these symptoms are present over an extended period of time, be sure to seek professional help.
How is astigmatism treated?
Astigmatism can be treated with various corrective laser surgeries: