17 May, 2023
Astigmatism is an eye condition that occurs when the cornea’s shape is irregular, causing blurry and distorted vision. The cornea is the clear front part of the eye that allows light rays to enter and refract onto the retina, which sends the visual signal to the brain. Instead of being a perfect sphere, the cornea of an individual with astigmatism is more oval or football-shaped.
People with astigmatism have an uneven corneal surface, which causes light rays to focus on multiple points within the eye, leading to vision problems. In effect the power of the cornea or lens is different in one direction (e.g. vertically) compared to the opposite direction (e.g. horizontally). This can result in blurry vision, eye strain, and difficulty seeing distance and near objects clearly.
There are two main types of astigmatism: corneal astigmatism and lenticular astigmatism. Corneal astigmatism is the most common type and occurs when the cornea has an irregular shape.
Lenticular astigmatism, on the other hand, is less common and occurs when the lens inside the eye has an irregular shape.
According to the National Eye Institute, astigmatism is one of the most common refractive errors in the world. It can occur alone or in conjunction with other vision conditions, such as short-sightedness (myopia) or long-sightedness (hyperopia).
Astigmatism is a refractive error that can cause blurry or distorted vision, affecting people of all ages. It occurs when the cornea or the lens of the eye has an irregular shape, causing problems with how light passes through the eye and how the eye focuses.
There are several causes of astigmatism, including:
Astigmatism can be inherited from one or both parents. If your parents have astigmatism, you are more likely to develop it as well.
Trauma to the eye, can cause changes in the cornea’s shape, leading to astigmatism.
Some types of eye surgery, such as cataract, pterygium or corneal transplant surgery, can cause astigmatism as a side effect.
Certain eye diseases, such as keratoconus, can cause the cornea to become thinner and more cone-shaped, leading to astigmatism.
As we age, changes to the shape of the cornea and lens can lead to astigmatism.
The severity of astigmatism can vary from mild to severe, and symptoms may differ depending on the individual. Here are some symptoms that may indicate astigmatism:
One of the most common symptoms of astigmatism is blurred vision, which increases with the severity of the condition. Objects may appear distorted or stretched out, making it difficult to see clearly.
Astigmatism can cause eye strain, especially when reading or using a computer for extended periods.
Some people with astigmatism may experience headaches, which can be caused by eye strain or focusing difficulties.
People with astigmatism may squint or tilt their heads to try and focus better.
Astigmatism commonly causes increased sensitivity to light, making it uncomfortable to be in bright environments.
Astigmatism can cause difficulty seeing in low light or at night.
Slight astigmatism may not cause noticeable symptoms and may not require treatment. However, more severe astigmatism can significantly affect your quality of life and may require corrective lenses, such as glasses or contact lenses, to improve vision.
In some cases, refractive surgery may be recommended to correct the irregular curvature of the cornea. Early detection and treatment can help prevent further vision problems and improve your overall eye health.
If you suspect you have astigmatism, the best way to diagnose it is through a comprehensive eye exam.
During an eye exam, your optometrist will perform various tests to determine the overall health of your eyes, measure your visual acuity, and assess the refractive status of the eyes I.e., to determine whether you are short-sighted (myopic), long-sighted (hyperopic) or have astigmatism.
The eye examination typically includes:
Your optometrist may also use additional tests, such as a corneal topography or wavefront analysis, to obtain more detailed information about the shape and curvature of your cornea or lens.
If astigmatism is diagnosed during your eye exam, your optometrist may prescribe corrective lenses, such as glasses or contact lenses, to help improve your vision. In some cases, refractive surgery may be recommended to reshape the cornea and correct astigmatism.
If you’re experiencing blurred vision or distorted vision due to astigmatism, there are several treatment options available to you. It is essential to speak to an optometrist or ophthalmologist to determine which treatment option is best for you.
Corrective lenses or glasses are one of the most common ways to correct astigmatism.
Lenses that correct astigmatism are known as toric lenses. Toric lenses have different powers in different directions to compensate for the uneven shape of the cornea or lens.
Contact lenses are another popular option for correcting astigmatism. Similar to corrective lenses, toric contact lenses are designed to compensate for the irregular shape of the cornea or lens. These lenses are available in both soft and rigid gas-permeable (RGP) materials. Soft contact lenses are more comfortable initially, which improves adaption time, whilst rigid contact lenses often provide sharper vision.
Laser eye surgery is a more permanent treatment option for astigmatism. This type of surgery reshapes the cornea to correct the refractive error. The most common type of laser eye surgery for astigmatism is called LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis).
During LASIK surgery, a laser is used to create a flap in the cornea, which is then lifted and reshaped with another laser. The flap is then replaced, and the cornea heals naturally.
If you have been diagnosed with astigmatism, there are several things you can do to manage your condition and improve your vision. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Regular check-ups with an optometrist are essential for anyone with astigmatism. These check-ups allow your optometrist to monitor your condition and ensure that your corrective lenses are properly fitted. They can also identify any changes in your vision and adjust your treatment accordingly.
Regular eye exams can detect other eye conditions that may be present, such as cataracts or glaucoma. Detecting these conditions early can prevent them from progressing and causing permanent damage to your vision.
If you have been diagnosed with astigmatism or any other refractive error, it’s important to seek treatment and have regular check-ups with an optometrist to monitor your condition. EyeQ is a trusted provider of eye care services in Australia, offering comprehensive eye exams and personalised treatment plans to help you achieve and maintain optimal eye health.
At EyeQ, our team of experienced optometrists will work closely with you to develop a customised treatment plan that addresses your unique needs and concerns. Whether you require corrective lenses, vision therapy, or other forms of treatment, we are committed to helping you achieve the best possible outcomes for your vision and overall eye health.
Don’t let blurry vision or other astigmatism symptoms go untreated. Schedule an appointment with your local EyeQ practice and get started on the path to better eye health.
Our contact lens provider Alcon is experiencing delays fulfilling orders due to a cyber-security incident involving their freight partner, Toll Group. These delays are across their entire network of optical retailers in Australia. We apologise for an inconvenience caused and encourage you to contact your local EyeQ practice for any urgent requirements.