Astigmatism is a big word that you may have heard from your eye doctor
when discussing your vision or prescription for contact lenses or glasses. What is
astigmatism and how is it different from other vision problems?
Astigmatism is a common refractive error that affects millions of people.
Refractive errors refer to the shape of your eye and how your eye reflects
light. If you have astigmatism, the cornea of your eye is not curved properly.
It is possible to have both nearsighted vision and astigmatism or farsightedness
The cornea and lens of the eye should be smooth and evenly curved in all
directions in order to properly refract light, but astigmatism is an irregular
curve of the cornea that is more like a football, with one area steeper
than it should be. Astigmatism affects both distance and close-range vision.
There are two types of astigmatism: corneal astigmatism and lenticular
astigmatism. Corneal astigmatism is an irregularly shaped cornea. Lenticular
astigmatism is an irregularly shaped lens of the eye.
Many people are born with astigmatism, and it may be accompanied by other
refractive errors such as nearsightedness or farsightedness. Some people
may develop astigmatism later in life as a result of eye injury or disease.
If you have astigmatism, you may experience any number of symptoms, including:
blurred vision, eyestrain, headaches, eye discomfort and squinting to
see clearly. This condition can be detected in a routine comprehensive eye exam.
It’s important to note that these symptoms are common of other refractive
vision errors, and even if you experience some of these symptoms, you
may not have astigmatism. Only your eye doctor can accurately diagnose
refractive errors that cause distorted or blurred vision.
Treatment options for astigmatism
In recent years, treatment for astigmatism has come a long way. In the
past, individuals with astigmatism were confined to rigid (or hard) contact
lenses or eyeglasses for vision correction. Today, many patients with
astigmatism have the option of toric lenses, which are soft contact lenses
made specifically for astigmatism.
LASIK eye surgery is another treatment option for some people with astigmatism. With laser
eye surgery, the cornea is reshaped to improve how the eye focuses light
rays on the retina.
Patients who have both cataracts and astigmatism have the option of a toric
intraocular lens implant to replace the lens that is clouded due to cataracts.
AcrySof® Toric IOL and STAAR Toric IOL are two treatment options that
make it possible to treat the cataract and correct corneal astigmatism
at the same time.
To determine the option that will best treat your astigmatism, scheduled
a visit with a Key-Whitman doctor to determine if you are a candidate
for LASIK vision correction surgery to treat your astigmatism or AcrySof®
Toric or STAAR Toric IOL to treat both your cataracts and correct astigmatism.