Astigmatism is a common eye condition marked by an irregular curvature of the cornea. This type of condition is also known as a refractive error.
A person’s eye is naturally spherical in shape. Under normal circumstances, when light enters the eye, it refracts evenly, creating a clear view of the object. However, the eye of a person with astigmatism is shaped more like the back of a spoon. For this person, when light enters the eye, it is refracted more in one direction than the other, allowing only part of the object to be in focus at one time. Objects at any distance can appear blurry and wavy.
Astigmatism can be hereditary and is often present at birth. It can also be the result of pressure from the eyelids on the cornea.
Astigmatism may occur with other refractive errors such as myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness). Unfortunately, astigmatism sometimes goes undetected in school-age children.
How is astigmatism treated?
Almost all degrees of astigmatism can be corrected with properly prescribed glasses or lenses. For a person with only a slight degree of astigmatism, corrective lenses may not be needed at all, as long as other conditions such as nearsightedness or farsightedness are not present. If the astigmatism is moderate to high, however, corrective lenses are probably needed.
For moderate to high astigmatism, special corrective lenses called toric lenses are prescribed. Toric lenses have greater light bending power in one direction than the other.
Another method for correcting astigmatism is by changing the shape of the cornea through refractive surgery( PRK, LASIK…). While there is more than one type of refractive surgery, specific treatments are recommended on an individual basis. Another possibility of correction in adults is the use of toric intraocular lenses (Toric IOL)
Refractive surgeries require generally healthy eyes. As technology progresses, it is important that you explore all options and possibilities with a qualified refractive surgery specialist before deciding which refractive surgery and treatment is right for you.