Introduction to Astigmatism
Astigmatism is a common eye condition that affects the way your eyes work together to produce clear images. Eye astigmatism occurs when the cornea (the transparent front portion of your eye) has an irregular curvature or if it's not round, resulting in blurred vision and reduced clarity. This article will cover what astigmatism is, how you can tell if you have it, how it can be treated, and ways to prevent this condition from occurring!
Blurred Vision is the most common symptom of astigmatism, but you may also notice discomfort or eyestrain. Additionally, people with this condition tend to squint and develop headaches during times where they are reading or trying to focus on close objects for a long period of time.
Distorted or Doubled Vision
Astigmatism can cause images to look distorted or doubled. You may also notice difficulty reading street signs and seeing the details in things like trees, buildings, and other objects. If this distortion is affecting your day-to-day life, it's a good idea to visit an optometrist for diagnosis
Astigmatism can result in reduced clarity, especially when trying to read text or watch TV. This condition is often most bothersome at night time because it makes seeing clearly harder under low light conditions.
Odd glare or halo effect around objects at night time, especially while driving. This condition occurs when light scatters off the irregular front surface of astigmatism cornea in a way that creates an eerie glow along your field of view. It's often most noticeable around lights and can be very distracting while driving.
When to Seek Medical Attention for Astigmatism
If you've been experiencing the symptoms above and have a headache or bad migraine, seek medical attention right away. This can be a sign of serious problems with your eyesight that could lead to permanent vision loss if it's not treated promptly. The same holds true for any sudden changes in your ability to see clearly, even if you don't have headaches.
People that are over the age of 40 should also seek medical attention if they notice a sudden change in their ability to see clearly. This can cause vision problems down the road in the form of blurry or misty vision.
If you're experiencing symptoms like blurred vision, eye strain, reduced clarity at night time while driving, and/or halos around light sources (especially when it's foggy) these can all be symptoms of astigmatism. If this is the case, make an appointment with your optometrist to be diagnosed and treat this condition today!
The most common cause of astigmatism is a person's genetics, and it can be caused by anything that changes the shape or curvature of their cornea. Some examples include:
A scar on your eye could lead to irregularity in its curvature, which will result in blurred vision.
An abrasion is when your cornea gets scratched or scraped, usually by something in your environment like sand particles, rough surfaces, thorns, etc. If left untreated it can lead to irregularity in the shape of the cornea which could result in blurred vision due to astigmatism.
Laser Eye Surgery
If you have had a procedure done where your cornea has been reshaped using lasers, this could lead to astigmatism. If the surgery went wrong and altered the shape of your cornea too much or not enough then it can cause vision problems that include blurred vision due to astigmatism. This is why it's very important to do your research when looking into different laser eye surgeries and make sure that you know the risks, side effects, etc before making a decision.
People with a family history of astigmatism are at risk for developing it themselves. If your parents, grandparents, etc have had this condition there's a good chance you will too!
If you wear contact lenses or glasses that aren't the right fit then they could be causing damage to your cornea which can lead to astigmatism.
It is difficult to prevent astigmatism from occurring, but you can take the following steps to help reduce your risk:
Wear Protective Eyewear
If you engage in activities that could lead to a corneal abrasion or any other injury to your eyes then it's important to wear protective eyewear so this doesn't happen. This includes wearing protective eyewear when playing sports, working on projects around the house that involve power tools (drilling, sawing, sanding) and/or woodworking.
Protect your eyes from UV damage by wearing sunglasses whenever you go outside to prevent eye strain and improve clarity at night time. The colors of sunglasses can also help with astigmatism. Blue or gray lenses can improve night time vision, while brown and green enhance clarity during the daytime by filtering out bright sunlight.
Get Regular Eye Exams
By getting regular eye exams you will be able to detect any problems early on so they don't become serious issues down the road that could lead to blurred vision.
Take Care of Your Eyes
By taking care of your eyes through a healthy lifestyle, you can reduce the risk factors that lead to astigmatism and other eye problems in general. This includes eating a nutritious diet with lots fruits and vegetables (antioxidants) to help prevent cell damage caused by free radicals; getting regular exercise at least 30 minutes a day; quitting smoking and/or drinking alcohol in excess, etc.
Astigmatism is usually a chronic condition that can't be cured, but it can still be managed to limit its impact on your life. Here are some things you could do:
Wear Eye Glasses
Astigmatism can be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses that help restore clear vision. If you wear glasses then make sure to choose the right frame and type of lens so they don't cause further eye strain and headaches.
If you choose to wear contact lenses, make sure they are the right fit for your eyes, or else they could cause damage that results in astigmatism. You may need a stronger type of lens if you have astigmatism compared to someone without this condition.
Get LASIK Surgery
Laser assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) is a type of refractive surgery that uses lasers to reshape the cornea and correct vision problems like astigmatism, nearsightedness and farsightedness. This procedure has high success rates and very low complication rates.
Get PRK Surgery
Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is another type of refractive surgery that uses an excimer laser to reshape the cornea, just like LASIK eye surgery. During this procedure a thin layer of cells are removed from your cornea before it's reshaped with the laser.
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