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What is Astigmatism?

The cornea that surrounds your pupil and iris is, under perfect circumstances, spherical. As light enters the eye, the cornea's job is to help focus that light, directing it toward the retina, which is in the anterior portion of your eye. But what happens if the cornea is not exactly round? The eye is not able to direct the light properly on one focus on your retina, and your vision gets blurred. This is known as astigmatism.

Many individuals have astigmatism and the condition frequently accompanies other refractive issues like nearsightedness or farsightedness. Astigmatism oftentimes occurs during childhood and often causes eye strain, painful headaches and the tendency to squint when untreated. With kids, it can lead to challenges in school, particularly with highly visual skills such as reading or writing. People working with fine details or at a computer for excessive periods may find that it can be a problem.

Astigmatism can be preliminarily diagnosed in an eye test with an optometrist and afterwards properly diagnosed with either an automated refraction or a retinoscopy test, which checks the severity of astigmatism. The condition is easily tended to with contact lenses or glasses, for those who prefer a non-invasive procedure, or refractive surgery, which alters the flow of light onto the retina to readjust the focal point.

With contacts, the patient is usually given toric lenses, which permit the light to bend more in one direction than another. Standard contacts have a tendency to shift when you close your eyes, even just to blink. But with astigmatism, the slightest movement can cause blurred sight. After you blink, toric lenses return to the same position on your eye to avoid this problem. You can find toric contact lenses in soft or hard lenses.

Astigmatism can also be rectified using laser surgery, or by orthokeratology (Ortho-K), a non-surgical alternative that involves wearing rigid lenses to gradually change the shape of the cornea over night. You should discuss your options with your eye care professional in order to decide what the best option might be.


A person's astigmatism can get better or worse over time, so make sure that you are regularly visiting your optometrist for a comprehensive exam. Additionally, make sure that you have your children's eyes checked before they begin school. A considerable amount of your child's education (and playing) is mostly a function of their vision. You'll allow your child get the most of his or her year with a thorough eye exam, which will diagnose any visual irregularities before they begin to affect schooling, athletics, or other extra-curricular activities. It's important to know that astigmatism is highly treatable, and that the earlier to you begin to treat it, the better off your child will be.