What is astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a common vision problem caused by an error in the shape of the cornea. With astigmatism, the lens of the eye or the cornea, which is the front surface of the eye, has an irregular curve. This can change the way light passes, or refracts, to your retina. This causes blurry, fuzzy, or distorted vision. Farsightedness and nearsightedness are two other types of problems with the way light passes to your retina. Farsightedness is called hyperopia. Nearsightedness is called myopia.
What causes astigmatism?
It’s not known what causes astigmatism, but genetics is a big factor. It’s often present at birth, but it may develop later in life. It may also occur as a result of an injury to the eye or after eye surgery. Astigmatism often occurs with nearsightedness or farsightedness.
What are the symptoms of astigmatism?
The symptoms of astigmatism may differ in each person. Some people don’t have any symptoms at all. The symptoms of astigmatism include:
- blurry, distorted, or fuzzy vision at all distances (up close and far away)
- difficulty seeing at night
- eye irritation
See a doctor if you have symptoms of astigmatism. Some symptoms may also be due to other health or vision problems.
What are the treatments for astigmatism?
Mild cases of astigmatism may not require treatment. Your doctor may treat astigmatism that causes vision problems by using one of the following methods.
Corrective eyeglasses and contact lenses prescribed by a doctor are the most common and least invasive treatments for astigmatism.
Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) is a treatment that uses rigid contact lenses to temporarily correct the irregular curvature of your cornea. You’ll wear rigid contact lenses for limited periods of time. You may wear them during sleep and then remove them during the day. Some people have clear vision during the day without corrective lenses when undergoing Ortho-K. The benefits of Ortho-K are only present when using it. Your vision will return to its previous state after stopping Ortho-K.
Your doctor may recommend refractive surgery if you have a severe case. This type of surgery involves using lasers or small knives to reshape your cornea. This will permanently correct your astigmatism. The three common surgeries for astigmatism are laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK), photo-refractive keratectomy (PRK), and radial keratotomy (RK). All surgeries carry some risks. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits before getting surgery for astigmatism.