What Does Astigmatism Mean?
Astigmatism is a common condition caused by an imperfection in the curvature of the cornea or lens of the eye. The cornea is the clear, round dome covering the eye’s iris and pupil. The lens of the eye is a transparent structure behind the cornea. Normally, the cornea and lens are smooth and curved equally in all directions, helping to focus light rays sharply onto the retina at the back of your eye. However, if your cornea or lens isn’t smooth and evenly curved, light rays aren’t refracted properly. This is called a refractive error.
When the cornea has an irregular shape, it is called corneal astigmatism. When the shape of the lens is distorted, you have lenticular astigmatism. As a result of either type of astigmatism, your vision for both near and far objects appear blurry or distorted.
Astigmatism can affect both children and adults. It is usually congenital, present at birth, but it can develop after an eye operation or an injury to the eye. Most people are born with some degree of astigmatism and they may have it along with other refractive errors: nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia).
While adults with a higher degree of astigmatism may realize their vision isn’t as good as it should be, children who have astigmatism symptoms may not be aware they have this condition and are unlikely to complain about blurred or distorted vision. But uncorrected astigmatism can seriously impact a child’s ability to achieve in school and sports. And some forms of astigmatism can be a sign of keratoconus, a cone-like bulge of the cornea, which can distort vision. Because of this, it is important that children have regular vision checks to detect astigmatism or other vision problems as early as possible.
The following are common signs and symptoms of astigmatism:
- Blurred or distorted vision at all distances
- Excessive squinting
- Eye strain, especially when the eye must focus for long periods, such as using a computer monitor
- Difficulty driving at night
A person with these symptoms may not have astigmatism, but if these symptoms are experienced, it is recommended that they schedule an eye examination.
Astigmatism is easily corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery. To learn more about astigmatism or to schedule an examination with our doctors in Portage, contact Kalamazoo Ophthalmology at 269-329-5860 or website today.