The cornea that surrounds your pupil and iris is, under perfect circumstances, spherical. When light hits the eye from all angles, the cornea's job is to help project that light, directing it to the retina, in the rear part of your eye. What does it mean when the cornea is not perfectly round? The eye cannot project the light properly on a single focal point on your retina, and will cause your vision to be blurred. Such a situation is referred to as astigmatism.
Many individuals have astigmatism and the condition frequently comes with other vision errors that require vision correction. Astigmatism frequently occurs early in life and often causes eye strain, headaches and the tendency to squint when uncorrected. In kids, it can lead to challenges in school, especially when it comes to highly visual skills such as reading or writing. People who work with particularly small or detailed objects or at a computer for long lengths of time may experience more difficulty with astigmatism.
Diagnosis of astigmatism starts with an eye exam with an eye care professional. Once detected, an automated refraction or a retinoscopy test is performed to calculate the severity of astigmatism. Astigmatism is commonly tended to with contact lenses or eyeglasses, or refractive surgery, which alters the flow of light onto the retina to readjust the focal point.
Toric lenses are commonly prescribed for astigmatism because they control the way the light bends when it enters the eye. Standard contacts generally shift each time you close your eyes, even just to blink. But with astigmatism, the slightest eye movement can completely blur your vision. Toric lenses return to the same position immediately after you blink. You can find toric contact lenses in soft or hard lenses.
In some cases, astigmatism may also be corrected with laser surgery, or by orthokeratology (Ortho-K), a non-surgical alternative that involves the use of hard lenses to gradually change the shape of the cornea over night. It's advisable to explore options with your eye doctor to determine what the best choice might be.
For help demonstrating the effects of astigmatism to young, small children, show them the back of two teaspoons - one round and one oval. In the circular one, an reflection will appear proportionate. In the oval teaspoon, their face will be stretched. This is what astigmatism means for your sight; those affected wind up seeing the world stretched out a little.
A person's astigmatism evolves gradually, so be sure that you are regularly seeing your optometrist for a comprehensive test. Additionally, be sure that your 'back-to-school' checklist includes taking your kids to an eye doctor. The majority of your child's schooling (and playing) is largely visual. You can allow your child get the most of his or her school year with a thorough eye exam, which will help detect any visual abnormalities before they begin to affect education, athletics, or other activities.