Astigmatism Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options at Rivertown Eye Care
At Rivertown Eye Care, we understand that clear, healthy vision is essential for enjoying life to the fullest. One common vision issue that many individuals experience is astigmatism. In this blog post, we will explore what astigmatism is, how it affects a person's vision, its causes, and the treatment options available.
What is Astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a common vision condition that occurs when the cornea (the clear front surface of the eye) or the lens inside the eye has an irregular shape. In a normal eye, the cornea and lens are smooth and evenly curved, which allows light to bend (or refract) evenly, resulting in clear vision. However, with astigmatism, the cornea or lens has an oval or football-like shape, causing light to refract unevenly and resulting in blurred or distorted vision. This can affect both near and distant objects.
How Does Astigmatism Affect a Person's Vision?
Astigmatism can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
Blurred or distorted vision: The irregular shape of the cornea or lens prevents light from focusing properly on the retina, leading to blurred or distorted vision at all distances.
Eye strain and discomfort: People with astigmatism may experience eye strain or discomfort, especially when performing tasks that require sharp vision, such as reading or working on a computer for extended periods.
Headaches: Due to the constant strain on the eyes caused by astigmatism, headaches can be a common occurrence.
Difficulty with night vision: Astigmatism can make it difficult for individuals to see clearly in low-light conditions, such as driving at night or navigating dimly lit spaces.
Squinting: People with astigmatism may find themselves squinting to see objects more clearly, which can lead to further eye strain and discomfort.
What Causes Astigmatism?
Astigmatism is usually caused by the irregular shape of the cornea or lens, which can be present from birth or develop over time. According to the American Optometric Association, most people have at least a slight degree of astigmatism, although it may not always be significant enough to affect their vision (source: American Optometric Association).
Several factors can contribute to the development or progression of astigmatism, including:
Genetics: Astigmatism can be hereditary, meaning that if one or both of your parents have astigmatism, you may be more likely to develop it as well.
Eye injury or surgery: An injury to the eye or certain eye surgeries can result in changes to the shape of the cornea or lens, leading to astigmatism.
Corneal conditions: Some eye conditions, such as keratoconus or pellucid marginal degeneration, can cause thinning and distortion of the cornea, which can result in astigmatism.
Aging: As we age, the shape of our cornea and lens may change, leading to the development or progression of astigmatism.
Treatment Options for Astigmatism
The good news is that astigmatism can be corrected with various treatment options. At Rivertown Eye Care, our expert optometrists will evaluate your individual needs and recommend the best course of action for you.
Common treatment options include:
Eyeglasses: Prescription eyeglasses with special lenses can correct astigmatism by compensating for the irregular shape of the cornea or lens. These lenses have different curvatures to ensure that light is refracted properly onto the retina, resulting in clear vision.
Contact lenses: Toric contact lenses can also be used to correct astigmatism. These lenses are designed to conform to the irregular shape of the eye and maintain their position, providing clear and stable vision. Some people may prefer contact lenses over eyeglasses for cosmetic reasons or because they offer better peripheral vision.
Orthokeratology (Ortho-K): This non-surgical treatment involves wearing specially designed gas-permeable contact lenses overnight to temporarily reshape the cornea. The lenses are removed during the day, allowing for clear vision without the need for eyeglasses or contact lenses. While Ortho-K can be effective in treating mild to moderate astigmatism, it is not a permanent solution and requires ongoing lens use to maintain the desired results.
Laser eye surgery: Procedures such as LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) or PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) can be used to permanently reshape the cornea and correct astigmatism. During these procedures, a laser is used to remove a precise amount of corneal tissue to create a more evenly curved surface. Laser eye surgery can provide long-lasting results for many individuals, but it's important to discuss your candidacy for the procedure with your optometrist.
Refractive lens exchange (RLE): This surgical procedure is typically reserved for individuals with severe astigmatism or those who are not candidates for laser eye surgery. RLE involves replacing the eye's natural lens with an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens (IOL), designed to correct astigmatism and provide clear vision.
Our dedicated optometrists at Rivertown Eye Care are committed to helping you achieve the best possible vision. If you suspect that you may have astigmatism or are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, don't hesitate to schedule an appointment with us. We will conduct a comprehensive eye exam to determine the cause of your vision problems and recommend the most appropriate treatment option for your individual needs.
Remember, regular eye exams are crucial for maintaining optimal eye health and detecting vision problems, such as astigmatism, early on. By addressing astigmatism in a timely manner, you can reduce the risk of eye strain, discomfort, and other associated symptoms, allowing you to enjoy life with clear, comfortable vision.
To learn more about astigmatism and treatment options or to schedule an appointment, please call us.