Astigmatism: What It Is and How It's Treated

Posted By Key-Whitman Eye Center || 30-Jan-2015

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 and astigmatism.

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.

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