Astigmatism is a common eye condition which occurs due to a refractive error caused by the retina of the eye. Astigmatism affects 60% of the population in Europe itself. It is not a disease but a condition in the change of the vision due to irregularly shaped cornea. Which results in the cause of blurry or distorted vision.
You can find astigmatism is many types of vision under the extent of a certain degree but it doesn’t create much change in the vision. However, astigmatism in high degree results in headaches, distortion and blurry vision. Read on to find its effect, symptoms and treatment to help yourself better in the future.
What is astigmatism?
Astigmatism is an eye condition which leads to blurred or distorted vision. In an astigmatic eye, the shape of the cornea is irregular which mostly resembles a football. However, in a normal eye, the shape of the outermost part of the eye aka cornea is mostly spherical. Due to irregularly shaped cornea, the light rays falling through it don't get directed on the retina perfectly hence you experience distorted or blurry vision. That ultimately leads to headaches, eye strain and many other painful eye discomforts.
The principal reason for developing relies on having cornea with an irregular shape. As you all know, the cornea is the outermost part of the eye which is solely responsible for focusing incoming light rays on the retinal wall. Which further helps the retina to interpret and send the message via the optic nerve to form the real image. However, the astigmatic eye struggles to project the light at a single point of the corneal wall and causes it to scatter. The scattering of light gives us a distorted or blurred vision
Astigmatism also occurs with other refractive error eye problems like nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia) at the same time.
What are astigmatism symptoms?
Astigmatism contains fewer signs and symptoms compared to other refractive errors. The common one, however, is experiencing blurry vision which many also say as a double vision in their single eye. Double vision in a single eye is also known as monocular diplopia. It is also caused by the result of getting the tear film and the retina uneven which is either caused by irregularly shaped cornea, cataract or any retinal disease.
For many, astigmatism also referred to experiencing constant eye-strain, burning sensation in the eye, headache, squinting from far or distant objects. If you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms in your eyes then rush to your nearby optometrist and get your eyes tested. Don’t wait for it to be over after a while or simply neglect it thinking of it as a small inconvenience at the time, because it is a bigger threat to your vision.
What causes astigmatism?
There is still very less information about what really causes the occurrence of astigmatism in the eye. However, there are methods on how you can get astigmatism in your eyes through different methods. Here are the different methods that cause astigmatism:
Change in Curvature: As we already discussed earlier, the irregular shaped cornea results in the cause of astigmatism. The main cause of the blurry or distorted vision lies in the change of the curvature. In the normal eye, the curvature of the cornea and lens behind it helps to bend the light coming from any source to focus it on the retina that’s positioned in the backside of the eye. However, in an astigmatic eye, the curvature of the cornea is different and is unable to grasp the incoming light to focus precisely on the retina.
Apart from the change in the curvature, the lens curvature also changes which can result in an increasing or decreasing astigmatism. The increase in astigmatism happens in the progressive years that is the adulthood of the person which causes the risk of developing cataract.
Genetics: Astigmatism is also caused by hereditary methods as well. If your parents had this eye problem, then you are most likely to develop it. Genetics play a great role in the cause of astigmatism as there are quite common cases. You often develop at birth but the effects grow mostly later in life, mostly in your mid 20’s. It can occur with nearsightedness or farsightedness.
Eye Accidents or Surgery
Accidents and surgical reasons also contribute to astigmatism in the eye of many people in the world. The cornea being the outermost part of the eye remains exposed to everything in the world and anything with hard rub can alter its shape. Many times, astigmatism is developed in people after going through an eye injury or surgical procedure in the eye. Hence prevention and taking preventive measures can help greatly to escape developing this eye condition. Don’t forget to wear protective glasses while playing any extreme sport or simply just drop the idea of doing any activity that brings severe altercation to your vision.
Keratoconus is quite a rare condition which can also lead to the change in the cornea. It’s an unknown eye condition which results in the thinning of the cornea which causes it to bulge outward from the eye. You’ll see a dome-shaped tissue coming out of the eye. It mostly develops during the teen years or around puberty that result in blurry vision, light sensibility, double vision, nearsightedness and astigmatism.
How to Diagnose Astigmatism?
Since astigmatism can develop at the time of birth, there are few tests you can run in your eyes to measure the eye condition. Here are the powerful methods that help you with diagnosing astigmatism:
Comprehensive eye test: We can’t stress it enough why a routine eye examination is significantly important for your eye health. There’s nothing better than going for an annual eye test and knowing about your changing eye condition with time. Our eyes deteriorate with time and there's no stoppage to that process however we all can definitely seal or guard our eyes' severe eye condition against getting worse with regular checkup with an optometrist. Talking about the test, here are the most important test you should take to detect astigmatism:
Snellen Chart: It is one of the most common tools for measuring your visual acuity around the world. The Snellen chart is a chart with a written text of letters and numbers which is kept at a distance and ordered to read them aloud. When you read the text, it gives away your visual acuity measurement ability of the eye. People who can read the charter as a downside as possible is considered with good vision also known as 20/20 vision. While the others who get stuck on the topmost part contain eye problems.
Keratometry: Keratometry is also a measurement method which is conducted with the help of keratometer. Keratometer is an instrument that supports by measuring the curvature of the cornea. The method involves focusing a circle of light of the cornea and by its reflection, you can measure its exact curvature. It helps to know the surface of the cornea quite well and helps predominantly in determining a good size for the contact lenses. This method helps to generate an exact and precise picture of the cornea and helps to come up with a solution regarding the detail in its shape and size.
What is the expected duration of Astigmatism?
Astigmatism can develop at the time of your birth and last your life until it is treated. This eye condition can change with time and can progress to turn worse at an old age. However, it remains the same throughout your life.
How can Astigmatism be prevented?
Astigmatism, unfortunately, cannot be prevented from developing in anyone's eyes. It develops at the very beginning of your life cycle at the birth and continues to grow lifetime while getting spread out among the family members.
How to correct astigmatism?
All types of astigmatism can be corrected with different procedures and devices. Here are the different ways of correcting astigmatism:
People with astigmatic eyes most;y go for glasses to correct their vision. Glasses are a harmless and convenient way of correcting your vision. For astigmatism, the lenses of the glasses have cylindrical lens prescription which helps to improve the light rays focusing on the retinal wall. You are most likely to get prescribed single-vision lenses to render clarity and focus on the object. However with time, mostly when you hit your 40’s, you’ll develop presbyopia and would require progressive lenses like varifocals or bifocals.
People also use contact lenses to correct their vision. Contact lenses also help to provide clear vision and correct astigmatism similar to eyeglasses. Don’t go for standard soft lenses as they are not that productive in correcting it. Go for specially curated toric soft contact lenses that are widely known for successfully correcting all types of astigmatism in anyone’s eye. Since contact lenses are worn with direct contact in the eye, it can lead to many additional eye problems. Hence you must go for regular and constant cleaning of the lenses in order to ensure healthy eye and vision.
Corneal Refractive Therapy
Corneal refractive therapy is a laser surgical work that involves altering the shape of the cornea and hence it will bring back your vision and help to focus light rays. However corneal refractive does the work without involving any surgical process. It involves specially designed glasses permeable contact lenses fitted into the eyes and advised to be worn overnight. These contact lenses help to reshape the front surface of the eye that is the cornea in the most gentle and temporally way. It is advised to be worn at night, not during the day and it brings less care and safety problems.
Common Question on Astigmatism
Q. 1 What causes astigmatism to worsen?
Ans. Astigmatism develops to turn worse with time and age.
Q. 2 What’s the difference between astigmatism vs normal vision?
Ans. Astigmatism vision is generally blurry or distorted while a normal vision consists of a regular shaped cornea which offers a clear and precise vision.
Q. 3 Is it possible to develop astigmatism in one eye?
Ans. Yes! It is possible to develop astigmatism in one eye
Q. 4 How does astigmatism affect night driving?
Ans. Astigmatism affects night driving as there’s no clarity of vision in the eye which often leads to blurry or distorted vision in the eye which is not safe for driving