How does astigmatism affect your eyesight?
18 November 2021
What is astigmatism?
Astigmatism, along with myopia (near-sightedness) and hyperopia (far-sightedness), is one of the most common eye conditions around the world. All three of these eye conditions are known as refractive errors. These occur when the shape of your cornea, or the lens behind the cornea, prevents light from focusing correctly on your retina – a light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of your eye, which is what leads to poor vision.
Astigmatism can occur if the cornea (the outer layer of the eye) is shaped differently in comparison to a regularly shaped cornea, which would curve over the eye equally in every direction. With astigmatism, the cornea grows to resemble the shape of a rugby ball rather than a perfectly round sphere, and this can cause light to focus in more than one area rather than directly on the retina. This can result in blurry vision, similar to myopia and hyperopia. However, the difference between astigmatism and other refractive errors is that myopia and hyperopia occur due to the shape of the eye itself. On the other hand, astigmatism is caused by the shape of the cornea, so both types of refractive error can cause blurry vision in different ways.
The different types of astigmatism
Astigmatism can affect your vision in many ways. This condition could lead to myopic, hyperopic, and even mixed vision – the latter meaning there are different levels of visual acuity in each eye. The two main types of astigmatism are regular and irregular astigmatism:
- Regular astigmatism: Regular astigmatism is the most common form of astigmatism and it can occur from early childhood. This is when the cornea tends to curve more in one direction than in the other. Luckily, this form of the condition is easily treatable and can be corrected by wearing glasses, contact lenses, or by having laser eye surgery.
- Irregular astigmatism: Irregular astigmatism is the less common form of the condition, and it tends to develop later in life. It can be caused by scarring on the cornea from an eye injury, or Keratoconus, an eye disease that affects the structure of the cornea – resulting in a loss of vision. The curvature of the cornea with irregular astigmatism also tends to be more uneven, unlike regular astigmatism where only one part curves more than the other. While regular astigmatism can easily be corrected with glasses, irregular astigmatism may require specialist contact lenses for treatment.
What are the symptoms of astigmatism?
Some of the symptoms of astigmatism can include:
- Blurry or distorted vision
- Eye strain
- Eye discomfort
- Night blindness
In children, it’s quite common for astigmatism to be caused by amblyopia (lazy eye). This is why visiting your opticians for regular eye tests from an early age is so important, so that eye conditions like astigmatism and amblyopia can be spotted early on and treated as soon as possible. Many people are unaware that they even have mild astigmatism due to not visiting the opticians regularly, meaning that their condition remains untreated and its symptoms continue.
In what ways can astigmatism be treated?
Astigmatism can be treated in a variety of ways, ranging from prescription glasses and contact lenses to laser eye surgery and lens replacement surgery. Prescription glasses and contact lenses may be a quicker solution for astigmatism, as they can be acquired after a routine visit to the opticians for an eye test. However, neither of these are permanent solutions, and both still come with the hassle of having to wear glasses or lenses all the time. Laser and lens surgery, however, offers you the chance to permanently correct your astigmatism – eliminating the need for glasses or lenses.
At Ultralase, both our LASIK and LASEK treatments can treat most cases of astigmatism along with myopia and hyperopia. However, this does depend on the severity of your astigmatism, and we would only proceed with treatment if we feel it would have a positive impact on your vision. This decision would be made in your consultation.
We also offer lens surgery to treat astigmatism by using a toric lens. This specialised lens can help correct your astigmatism as well as your near and distant vision. This treatment can also help prevent your astigmatism from developing again later in life. Toric lenses are shaped slightly differently to normal contact lenses, as they are designed to bend light and allow it to reach your retina in the correct place.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of astigmatism mentioned above, we highly recommend that you visit your optician for an eye test to determine if you have the condition. If you seek a permanent solution for your astigmatism, and would rather get rid of the hassle of glasses or contact lenses, you can contact us here to find out more information on the treatments we offer. Our friendly Customer Services team can also be reached on the phone at 0800 988 6390, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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