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What is astigmatism?

Often misunderstood by many people, astigmatism is one of the most common vision problems like nearsightedness and farsightedness. In fact, you’ll be glad to know that it is not an eye disease or eye health problem. Astigmatism is simply a refractive error in how the eye focuses light caused when when your eye is not completely round. Because our bodies are not perfect, astigmatism occurs in nearly everybody to some degree; but for some, the error is significant enough to cause blurring.

Eyes are naturally shaped like a sphere. Under normal circumstances, when light enters your eye, it bends evenly to create a clear picture on the back of your eye. However, in a person with astigmatism, their eye is egg-shaped like a football. When light enters an astigmatic eye, it is bent more in one direction than the other. As a result, only part of a picture is in focus at any given time. This causes objects, at any distance, to appear blurred or distorted to some degree.

Astigmatism Signs and Symptoms

Patients with a small amount of astigmatism may experience only mildly blurred vision or may not notice it at all. However, even small amounts of uncorrected astigmatism can result in eye strain, squinting, headaches, and fatigue over time—especially after reading or other prolonged visual tasks.

Astigmatism often develops in childhood. According to a recent study of 2,523 American children between the ages of 5 to 17 by the Ohio State University School of Optometry, over 28% of school children have astigmatism. Often unaware of their condition compared to adults, children are less likely to complain of distorted or blurred vision. However, astigmatism can cause problems that interfere with learning. As such, it is important to maintain regular eye exams for your child during their school years.

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How is astigmatism treated?

Astigmatism, like nearsightedness and farsightedness, can typically be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Rigid gas permeable (RGP or GP) contact lenses often provide the best correction for astigmatism. However, toric contact lenses—specialized soft contact lenses for astigmatism—are also available. Toric lenses have a gas permeable center and soft periphery that provides the clarity of gas permeable lenses while maintaining the comfort of soft contact lenses.

Depending on the type and severity of your astigmatism, LASIK and other types of refractive surgery may also be a viable solution.

Because astigmatism can get worse over time, be sure to visit Dogwood Vision Care whenever you notice a change in your vision. As always, Dr. McMasters is available to discuss which corrective option is best for you and can diagnose astigmatism with a thorough and comprehensive eye exam. Be sure to make your appointment today for all of your eye health and eye care needs!

As always, Dogwood Vision Care is your premier vision care and eye health provider proudly serving the Jackson, Flowood, Ridgeland, Pearl, and Brandon areas of Mississippi!