What to do if you have astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a fairly common eye problem, as it occurs in a third of Americans. However, despite how often it is encountered, many people are still not sure what it is. If you’ve noticed that the way you see is out of focus or distorted, you might be faced with this issue. So, here is what you need to know about astigmatism and how it can be treated.
What is astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a type of refractive error that affects how you see. It means that the shape of the eye prevents light from correctly focusing on the retina. If the cornea – the front surface of the eye – isn’t curved equally on all sides, the way how light rays bend and the clarity of your vision are impacted.
A normal eye’s cornea and lens focus light on the retina and allow for clear vision. However, when you have astigmatism, the light will focus differently, which results in blurry images, glare, halos, and streaking around items.
Astigmatism can be caused by trauma, disease, or surgery. On the other hand, it is also related to genetics, which means that it might run in your family.
Types of astigmatism
There are a few ways how astigmatism is classified. For example, if the cornea is distorted, it’s called corneal astigmatism. This is the most common kind. Then, if the lens is distorted, it’s lenticular astigmatism.
However, there is also the division into regular and irregular astigmatism, based on their meridians, as well as other types of astigmatism that occur with a refractive error. Regular astigmatism entails a curvature of the eye that is not completely round, with the eye curved in one direction more. Irregular astigmatism is similar but differs in that the curvature is uneven or goes in multiple directions. It might go more toward the bottom than the top. The latter is typically caused by diseases like keratoconus or corneal scarring. Lastly, astigmatism can occur combined with other refractive errors such as simple and compound myopic, simple and compound hyperopic, and mixed with both nearsightedness and farsightedness.
No matter if you’re a parent that wants their kid to be healthy or are looking after your own health, it’s good to know that astigmatism can be treated, and in several ways at that.
For some people, the simplest approach would be getting glasses. There are glasses with a cylindrical lens that help the eye compensate for the uneven curves of the lens or cornea. Glasses are also better suited for individuals with severe cases of astigmatism than contacts may be.
Speaking of contacts, they also offer astigmatism correction. The only exception is that they will sit directly on the eye. Nowadays, there are a few types of lenses you can find. For instance, soft contact lenses might be just what you need as they are weighed to make sure they align properly. Moreover, they also come with different meridians that will correct your vision.
Then, there are gas-permeable (RGP or GP) contact lenses that are a bit more rigid, thus maintaining their shape. While they can result in sharper vision, the fit and feel might not suit you. Finally, you can also look into hybrid contact lenses. They use the RGP material for the center while the surrounding area is made of soft lens material.
Another option you also have is refractive surgery. It will reshape the cornea in order to correct the refractive error. You have two options at your disposal: LASIK and photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). For example, LASIK intralase is an amazing option that minimizes complications and takes less than 10 minutes. It uses an ultrafast femtosecond laser that will create a flap that allows the ophthalmologist to access the cornea and reshape it with another laser. On the other hand, PRK surgery removes the cornea’s outer surface before the inner cornea is reshaped with a laser. It is an alternative for people with thin corneas or dry eyes.
How to check if you have astigmatism
To see if you have astigmatism, you should go to an eye doctor who will do a comprehensive eye exam. There are various tools that they can use to determine how curved your cornea is and which treatment might suit you best.
Astigmatism is a common issue, so even if it turns out you have it, don’t worry. There are ways to treat it and see the world clearly once again. Visit your doctor to find a fix.
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