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What You Want to Know About Astigmatism

Surrounding your iris and pupil is your cornea, which is, under perfect circumstances, spherical. When light enters your eye, part of the job of your cornea is to help project that light, aiming it toward your retina, right in the rear part of your eye. What is the result if the cornea isn't perfectly round? The eye cannot focus the light properly on a single focal point on your retina, and will cause your vision to be blurred. Such a situation is called astigmatism.

Astigmatism is actually not a rare vision problem, and mostly comes with other refractive issues that require vision correction. Astigmatism frequently appears early in life and can cause eye strain, painful headaches and squinting when left untreated. With kids, it can cause difficulty at school, especially when it comes to highly visual skills such as reading or writing. Sufferers who work with fine details or at a computer for excessive lengths may experience more difficulty with astigmatism.

Astigmatism is detected in a routine eye exam with an optometrist and afterwards properly diagnosed with either an automated refraction or a retinoscopy test, which checks the degree of astigmatism. Astigmatism is commonly tended to by contact lenses or eyeglasses, for those who prefer a non-invasive procedure, or refractive surgery, which alters how that light hits the eye, letting the retina receive the light correctly.

For contact lenses, the patient is usually prescribed toric lenses, which allow the light to curve more in one direction than another. Regular contact lenses have a tendency to move when you blink. With astigmatism, the slightest eye movement can cause blurred sight. After you blink, toric lenses return to the same place on your eye to avoid this problem. You can find toric contact lenses in soft or hard varieties, to be chosen depending on what is more comfortable for you.

In some cases, astigmatism can also be corrected with laser surgery, or by orthokeratology (Ortho-K), a non-surgical alternative that involves wearing hard lenses to gradually change the shape of the cornea. It's advisable to discuss your options and alternatives with your eye doctor to determine what your best option is for your needs.

When explaining astigmatism to young, small children, it can be useful for them compare the backside of two teaspoons - one circular and one oval. In the round one, an mirror image appears proportionate. In the oval one, their face will be stretched. This is what astigmatism means for your sight; those affected wind up viewing the world stretched out a bit.

A person's astigmatism changes gradually, so be sure that you're regularly making appointments to see your optometrist for a proper exam. Also, be sure your 'back-to-school' checklist includes taking your kids to an eye doctor. The majority of your child's learning (and playing) is predominantly visual. You can help your child get the most of his or her year with a full eye exam, which will help pick up any visual irregularities before they affect academics, sports, or other activities.