What Is Astigmatism?

by Feb 5, 2020

Astigmatism is a very common vision condition that can cause blurred vision.  While there are oftentimes misconceptions about this condition, it is a harmless finding that can be easily diagnosed and treated.  Astigmatism is a simple vision condition that has no impact on your ocular health. To learn more about the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of astigmatism, continue reading. 


The Basics of Astigmatism 

An astigmatism occurs when the front surface of the eye, known as the cornea, is not perfectly and evenly curved in all directions. When there are slight irregularities to the curvature of cornea, it affects how light enters the optical system of the eye.  This causes light to form an uneven image, and objects will appear blurred or distorted. Astigmatism usually causes blurred vision while looking at objects both far away and close up. Just like nearsightedness or farsightedness, astigmatism is a form of refractive error.  This means it is simply an optical condition that can be fixed with glasses or contact lenses.  These lenses work by changing the way light enters the eye and eliminating blurred vision. All of these forms of refractive error, including astigmatism, can be diagnosed during a routine eye examination.


How to Treat Astigmatism 

Astigmatism is much more common than you may think.  Almost everyone has some small degree of astigmatism.  If the amount of astigmatism present is enough to cause blurred vision, it can be easily corrected by several different options.  The easiest and most common way to correct an astigmatism is with glasses. If you have ever looked at your glasses prescription and seen a number assigned to a “cylinder” value, it means your prescription corrects for your astigmatism.  

An astigmatism can also be corrected by contact lenses.  A special design of soft contact lenses called toric lenses can provide correction for those with mild and moderate amounts of astigmatism.  Most people who only have small amounts of astigmatism do not even need toric lenses, and can still have clear vision with traditional spherical contacts.  In cases of high amounts of astigmatism, specialty contact lenses including gas permeable or scleral lenses may be a better option for providing clear and consistent vision.

Refractive surgery, including LASIK and PRK, can be a corrective option for many people with astigmatism.  To determine if you are a good candidate for refractive surgery, your doctor will take into account the amount of astigmatism you have, as well as many other factors such as age and corneal thickness.  


Addressing Myths about Astigmatism 

Many myths about astigmatism continue to cause confusion about the refractive error.  Many people worry that having an astigmatism means their vision is particularly bad or difficult to correct.  Luckily, we know this is false, and that there are many options to provide people with an astigmatism with clear vision.  Others may worry that astigmatism can develop or worsen with screen time. This myth is also false: screen time has no impact on the development of progression of astigmatism.  In fact, astigmatism is usually a very stable condition, and rarely gets worse throughout life.  

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At Nittany Eye Associates, you will receive only the highest quality eye exam with our eye doctors in the State College, PA and surrounding areas. Call us at (814) 234-2015 or schedule an appointment online with one of our highly trained optometrists in State College. The next time you need an evaluation for glasses, contact lenses or astigmatism be sure to Nittany Eye Associates where we put always put the care of you and your family first at our convenient locations in State College, Matilda, Spring Mills, Tyrone, and Lock Haven PA areas.



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