Around your pupil and iris is your cornea, which is, under perfect conditions, spherical. As light hits your eye from all angles, the cornea's job is to project that light, aiming it toward the retina, which is in the anterior portion of your eye. But what is the result when the cornea is not exactly spherical? The eye cannot project the light correctly on one focal point on your retina's surface, and will cause your vision to be blurred. This condition is known as astigmatism.
Many individuals have astigmatism and the condition mostly accompanies other vision errors such as nearsightedness or farsightedness. It oftentimes appears during childhood and can cause eye fatigue, painful headaches and the tendency to squint when untreated. With children, it may cause challenges in the classroom, particularly with reading or other visual tasks. Anyone who works with particularly small or detailed objects or at a computer monitor for long periods might experience more difficulty with astigmatism.
Diagnosis of astigmatism starts with an eye test with an optometrist. Once detected, an automated refraction or a retinoscopy test is performed to check the severity of astigmatism. Astigmatism is commonly tended to with contact lenses or eyeglasses, or refractive surgery, which changes the way that light hits the eye, allowing your retina to get the light properly.
Toric lenses are commonly prescribed for astigmatism because they control the way the light bends when it enters the eye. Standard contact lenses have a tendency to move each time you close your eyes, even just to blink. With astigmatism, the smallest eye movement can totally blur your vision. After you blink, toric lenses return to the same position on your eye to avoid this problem. You can find toric contact lenses in soft or hard varieties, to be chosen depending on what is more comfortable for you.
Astigmatism can also be rectified by laser surgery, or by orthokeratology (Ortho-K), a non-surgical alternative that involves wearing special rigid lenses to gradually reshape the cornea. It's advisable to discuss your options with your eye care professional to determine what the best option is for your needs.
When explaining astigmatism to young, small children, it can be useful for them look at a round teaspoon and an oval teaspoon. In the circular teaspoon, an mirror image appears regular. In the oval teaspoon, their face will be stretched. And this is what astigmatism means for your sight; you wind up seeing everything stretched out a little.
A person's astigmatism changes gradually, so make sure that you're periodically seeing your optometrist for a proper exam. Additionally, make sure that you have your children's eyes checked before they begin school. Most of your child's learning (and playing) is largely visual. You'll help your child make the best of his or her year with a thorough eye exam, which will diagnose any visual abnormalities before they begin to impact education, play, or other activities.