All About Astigmatism

Does your vision blur no matter how near or far you are from an object or person? Do you often find yourself squinting trying to see well? Do you often experience eye strain or headaches, especially after reading or prolonged computer use? If you said yes to any of these questions, you may have astigmatism.

Similar to nearsightedness and farsightedness, astigmatism is a refractive error brought on by an irregular corneal shape. However, unlike those with the first two conditions, individuals with astigmatism cannot see better when they adjust their position. Squinting may help, but it will not improve the condition, nor do away with the symptoms.

Aside from checking for common signs and symptoms, a diagnostic test needs to be done to confirm the presence of astigmatism. Visual acuity will be measured using standard eye charts. The curvature of the cornea can be visualized through keratometry. With special instruments such as a phoropter and a retinoscope, further assessment of the person’s refraction or responses to light can be done. Ophthalmologists can perform more tests to check for other eye conditions with similar symptoms.

Based on the findings, options for treatment will be determined and discussed with the patient. The most conservative treatments available for astigmatism are prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses. LASIK surgery or photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) may permanently restore clear, sharp vision for people who are generally healthy (i.e. those without contraindications to laser surgery).

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