There are plenty of common issues that can happen with a person’s eyesight. Some people suffer from eye problems with seeing things that are too close to their field of view, while others struggle with issues where they can’t see things very well in the distance.
Astigmatism is probably one of the most common, and yet most misunderstood issues with vision that a person can suffer from. One of the first things to be aware of is that the issue is called “astigmatism”. Most people assume that they have “a stigmatism” which can make it harder to research the kind of treatment and support that you really need.
Like problems with farsightedness and nearsightedness, astigmatism is a kind of refractive error in the eyesight. This means that your issue isn’t caused by a problem with a disease in your eye, or an injury – it’s just a problem with the way that the lens in your eye focuses light to improve the images that you see.
If your eyes have astigmatism, then you won’t be able to focus light very well on your retina. This means that you could see blurry pictures instead of a clear image in front of you.
When Do You Need Astigmatism Correction?
If you have a problem with astigmatism in your vision, then you will probably need to consider an astigmatism correction. Of course, before you can start looking at treatment options, it’s important to make sure that you have the right diagnosis for your conditions. Signs and symptoms of astigmatism can include:
- Eye pain
- Distorted vision
- Difficulty reading or driving at night
As usual, if you experience any problems with your vision, including the symptoms listed above, it’s important to speak to your eye care professional as quickly as possible. The sooner you can get an appointment, the better.
If you notice the symptoms outlined above and go to speak to your local optometrist or eye doctor, then you may undergo a series of tests that will help your doctor to determine what’s going on with your eyesight. One of the tests that your eye care professional will perform is a comprehensive dilated eye examination – this is when your optometrist looks into your eye to search for any issues with your lens and the inner workings of the eye.
It is possible for some people to suffer from mild cases of astigmatism and not be aware of it. This is a common case for children, who generally aren’t aware of issues with their vision, as they’re still getting used to their sight.
Generally, astigmatism is caused by irregular shaping in the cornea or like a football. Instead of your cornea having the typical round shape, it would be shaped more like an oval, with one meridian being more curved than the one perpendicular with it.
The Different Types of Astigmatism
A person can suffer from many different types of astigmatism. For instance, the most common types include:
- Myopic astigmatism – this happens when either one or both of the main meridians in the eye are nearsighted in nature. This means that they are myopic in differing degrees if both your meridians are nearsighted.
- Mixed astigmatism – this happens when one of the meridians in your eye is farsighted, and the other is nearsightedness.
- Hyperopic astigmatism- this happens when one or both of the meridians in your eyes have problems with farsightedness. Again, if both meridians are far-sighted, it will be to a different degree.
Another way to classify the different types of astigmatism in the optical world is as irregular or regular. In a case of regular astigmatism, the meridians will be 90 degrees apart, which means that they are perpendicular in nature. Alternatively, if you are diagnosed with irregular astigmatism, this means that the meridians in your eye will not be perpendicular. Most of the time, astigmatism diagnoses are regular in nature and have links to the cornea. However, irregular astigmatism can happen.
When irregular astigmatism takes place, it’s often the result of an injury to the eye that has prompted scarring on the cornea. Additionally, some irregular astigmatism issues can also happen as a result of certain kinds of eye surgery.
Astigmatism Correction Options
As mentioned above, if you do suffer from astigmatism, then your optician may suggest some astigmatism correction options. Most of the time, the solutions used to handle astigmatism are the same as you would expect for any refractive eye problems, including contact lenses, eyeglasses, and refractive surgery.
Alongside the spherical lens that is used to help correct issues with farsighted or nearsighted vision, astigmatism issues also require an additional lens that helps to correct the difference between the meridians in your eye. This means that the prescription for a set of eyeglasses or lenses that you get from astigmatism will be more complex than one you would get for other refractive issues.
Your optician may have to work with you for a while to find the perfect prescription for you, but a good test following your astigmatism diagnosis should help your optician to choose your sphere power, cylinder power and axis designation for any eye glasses or lenses you choose to wear. In some cases, if your eyes are a strange shape because of your issues with astigmatism, then your optician might have to send for specialist lenses for you. This means that you can’t simply buy your lenses off the shelf.
Alternative Astigmatism Correction Options
Aside from eyeglasses and contact lenses there are also other more permanent solutions for astigmatism correction, like using gas permeable contact lenses. These lenses replace the cornea on the refractive lens of the eye and are a longer-term solution for astigmatism.
Alternatively, a good long-term option is laser refractive eye surgery like LASIK or Zeiss ReLEx SMILE. Not everyone with astigmatism will be eligible for LASIK or SMILE surgery so it’s important to speak to your eye doctor about whether the option will be right for you or not.