The cornea, the clear, round tissue that is in front of your iris and pupil, is usually spherical in shape. As light enters your eye from all angles, your cornea focuses that light, directing through your eye to your retina, which is at the back of your eye. Often, our cornea isn't perfectly spherical in shape, which causes light to not focus at one point on the retina (at the fovea). This condition is called astigmatism, and it causes our vision to be blurred at all distances, near to far.
Unfortunately, astigmatism is common. Small amounts of astigmatism cause little blur, but large amounts result in more blur and distortion. Astigmatism also often accompanies other refractive issues, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness. Astigmatism in childhood can cause eye fatigue, headaches and squinting when undiagnosed or untreated. In children, it may cause difficulty in the classroom, making reading and writing more difficult to learn. Adults who work with small parts, paperwork, or spend long hours driving or working on a computer often experience eyestrain and headaches as well.
Astigmatism is detected, measured, and corrected as the result of having an eye exam by an optometrist. The condition can be corrected by the use of eye glasses, contact lenses
, or refractive surgery such as LASIK.
People who choose contact lenses are usually fitted with toric lenses, and are designed to orient in the eye in a specific way in order to bring light back into a sharp focal point on the retina.
In the past several years, great improvements have been made in vision correction of all types. There is absolutely no reason to live with blurry vision or eye strain, as new contact lenses and extremely lightweight eye glasses are available from your eye care professional. Annual eye examinations are an easy way to ensure that your eyes remain healthy and your vision remains clear and sharp.