9 Facts You Didn’t Know About Astigmatism
If you’re a glasses or contact lens wearer, this question might have come up before: “Do you have astigmatism?” If you’re not quite sure how you should answer, then this blog post is for you. We’re going to share some of the more common facts about astigmatism, as well as tell you what symptoms you can and should look out for, and the steps you can take to treat them.
1. Astigmatism is caused by an irregularly-shaped cornea
If you have astigmatism, then you’ve surely experienced out-of-focus eyesight from any distance. This is due to the fact that your cornea (the transparent surface of the eye) is football-shaped instead of the more normally-spherical structure of an emmetropic eye (when light rays that enter the eye come to perfect focus on the retina; this is ideal vision). With a rounder shape, the eye can properly control the amount of light that enters, making it easier to see clearly. An irregularly-shaped eye, however, means that the light that enters is unevenly distributed, thus resulting in blurred vision.
2. The cause of astigmatism is (somewhat) unclear...
While we know the answer as to why a person’s eyesight is blurry (an irregularly-shaped cornea) and what affect this can have on vision, many optometrists and researchers still aren’t sure as to how this happens in the first place. What we do know is people who have astigmatism are typically born with this this condition, meaning their eye resembles a football to begin with. Though much less likely, trauma or injury to the eye may force this shape to shift too. One way you can’t get astigmatism, though, is by sitting too close to the television. While this was once believed to be a sure-fire way to develop the condition, consider that myth debunked.
3. There seems to be a genetic component
You can thank your mom and dad for this one: as previously mentioned, an oddly-shaped cornea is a genetic trait, just like the colour of your eyes, which may have been passed down from one generation to the next. So the blurry vision you start to notice over time may very well be out of your control.
4. Astigmatism symptoms may be easy to miss
One of the most widely-reported symptoms of astigmatism—blurry vision—can be so mild in some people that it can hardly be detected. Other symptoms, like headaches or eye fatigue, are so commonplace that they can easily be overlooked or mistaken for another issue (too much time spent in front of a computer, for example). That’s why, like other aspects of your overall health, it’s important to stay vigilant with regards to your vision. Performing every day, routine tasks like using a computer, smartphone, tablet, or even just reading a book may all provoke blurry vision. The best way to know what’s happening with your eyesight is to get it checked regularly by an optometrist.
5. Catch symptoms early on to avoid complications
Astigmatism is important to catch early on, especially in children. If left unnoticed, it can lead to more serious and permanent eye conditions such as amblyopia (the scientific term for what’s commonly known as lazy eye). As mentioned above, regular eye exams should be considered essential: get your (and your children’s) eyes checked every year to avoid complications to your eyesight.
6. An optometrist can easily detect astigmatism
Though you might have a hard time identifying the exact cause of your blurred vision, an eye doctor should be able to clear things up for you. With a comprehensive eye exam, your doctor will measure your visual acuity (your eye’s ability to make out details and shapes), asking you to read out letters on an eye distance chart. A series of lenses will be placed over your eyes—these will test your eye’s ability to focus. Your eye doctor may even perform a corneal topography exam to measure other qualities that are unique to your eyes.
7. There’s more than one type of astigmatism
There are three types of astigmatism:
- Myopic astigmatism: This form of astigmatism occurs when the light is focused before it ever reaches the eye, much like myopia itself.
- Hyperopic astigmatism happens when one or both of the eye’s meridians (invisible lines that run from right to left and top to bottom) are farsighted (people who can see clearly from up close but have difficulties seeing far away). This occurs with hyperopia.
- Mixed astigmatism is the result of one principal meridian being near-sighted, with the other being farsighted.
No matter what form of astigmatism you’re afflicted by, it can be corrected easily with refractive surgery (such as LASIK), glasses, or contact lenses.
8. Symptoms of astigmatism will grow worse over time
If you have astigmatism, and have not had it corrected it through surgical means, there’s a significant chance you’ll notice the quality of your vision declining over time. This deterioration can happen slowly…but eventually, it’ll become all too difficult to ignore. However, there is some good news: astigmatism isn’t an eye disease, this change in vision poses no real threat to your overall eye health—it may just make things look even blurrier than they did before.
9. Astigmatism can affect depth perception
Depth perception means the ability to observe the world in three dimensions. Some eye conditions, like astigmatism, make depth perception issues seem much more apparent—making it difficult to determine the proximity of certain objects or the distance between two objects.
A lack of depth perception is more likely to be a symptom when only one eye is afflicted by astigmatism, as it can create a profound feeling of imbalance. Astigmatism also blurs the edges and outlines of everything you see, so even if your depth perception is untouched, the overall quality of your vision may be poor regardless.
Here is one way you can correct astigmatism
If you find your blurry vision extremely bothersome, one of the easiest ways to simplify complications of astigmatism is with LASIK eye surgery. LASIK permanently reshapes the cornea, bringing it to a rounder shape to help you see clearly. Glasses and contact lenses may also be prescribed to you to correct astigmatism. In some cases, the astigmatism may be so slight that your doctor may not recommend wearing glasses at all.
If you’re tired of having eyesight that’s always out-of-focus, there is an easy solution: laser vision correction. Want to know if you’re a candidate for this procedure? We recommend booking a free consultation with our helpful clinical staff to see if a vision correction procedure can help you.