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Astigmatism is a type of eye problem that causes blurry vision and sometimes eyestrain and headaches. Astigmatism is not a disease, but rather an imperfection in the shape of the cornea, which is the clear front cover of your eye. According to the American Optometric Association, most people have some degree of astigmatism.
Together, the cornea and lens focus light entering the eye to help you see well. The curved shape of the cornea does this by actually bending the light so that it hits a precise spot on your retina at the back of your eye. A healthy cornea is shaped like a basketball while a cornea with astigmatism more closely resembles a football. This improper curvature causes the light to hit the wrong place in your retina, resulting in unfocused vision.
Astigmatism may be present at birth. Symptoms may appear during adolescence and worsen with age. This common vision problem may develop after an injury or eye surgery.
Astigmatism may also develop as the result of the disease, keratoconus, characterized by a cornea that becomes progressively thinner and cone-shaped. Keratoconus causes severe astigmatism uncorrected with prescription glasses; patients with keratoconus must wear special contacts and may eventually need corneal transplants to save their vision.
The optometrists at Advanced Eyecare Center can diagnose and treat astigmatism to restore your clear vision. Diagnosis begins with a comprehensive eye exam and a variety of state-of-the-art tests. The examination includes a visual acuity test where the doctor asks you to read aloud letters on a chart. Your optometrist will use a keratometer machine to measure the curvature of your cornea in a diagnostic procedure known as keratometry. Your eye doctor will also do a refraction test to determine how well your eyes focus light.
Our optometrists might recommend one of a variety of treatment options that correct astigmatism. You may be able to use eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct your vision. Eyeglasses are the primary choice for many people. To correct astigmatism, certain areas of the eyeglass lens are shaped differently to correct how light focuses on the retina.
Soft contact lenses work well for some people with minor astigmatism but, since soft contact lenses conform to the shape of your eye, may not work well for people with more severe focus problems. Gas permeable lenses may be more effective for these individuals, as these lenses retain their shape to compensate for the irregular shape of the cornea.
In some cases, special hard contact lenses can correct the shape of the cornea in a procedure known as orthokeratology, or ortho-k for short. In other cases, laser or refractive surgery procedures reduce blurry vision and other symptoms associated with astigmatism.
Make an appointment with Advanced Eyecare Center today to schedule an eye exam at one of our offices located in Redondo Beach or Manhattan Beach.