The cornea that surrounds your pupil and iris is, under perfect conditions, spherical. As light enters the eye from all angles, part of the job of your cornea is to focus that light, aiming it at the retina, in the rear part of your eye. What does it mean when the cornea isn't perfectly spherical? The eye can't direct the light properly on one focal point on your retina's surface, and will blur your vision. This condition is referred to as astigmatism.
Many individuals have astigmatism and the condition frequently accompanies other vision errors that require vision correction. It frequently appears during childhood and often causes eye fatigue, painful headaches and squinting when left untreated. With children, it may cause obstacles in school, particularly when it comes to highly visual skills such as reading or writing. Sufferers who work with fine details or at a computer monitor for long periods may find that it can be a problem.
Diagnosis of astigmatism starts with a routine eye exam with an eye care professional. Once detected, an automated refraction or a retinoscopy exam is performed to measure the severity of astigmatism. Astigmatism is easily tended to with contact lenses or glasses, or refractive surgery, which changes the way that light hits the eye, letting the retina get the light properly.
Toric lenses are commonly prescribed for astigmatism because they permit the light to curve more in one direction than another. Regular contacts shift each time you close your eyes, even just to blink. But with astigmatism, the most subtle eye movement can cause blurred sight. Toric lenses are able to return to the same place immediately after you blink. You can find toric contact lenses in soft or hard varieties, to be chosen depending on what is more comfortable for you.
Astigmatism may also be fixed with laser surgery, or by orthokeratology (Ortho-K), a non-surgical alternative that involves wearing special rigid lenses to gradually reshape the cornea. It's advisable to discuss options with your eye doctor to decide what your best choice is for your needs.
Astigmatism changes gradually, so be sure that you are frequently seeing your optometrist for a comprehensive exam. Additionally, make sure you have your children's eyes checked before they begin school. A considerable amount of your child's learning (and playing) is predominantly a function of their vision. You'll allow your child get the most of his or her year with a full eye exam, which will help diagnose any visual abnormalities before they begin to impact schooling, play, or other activities.