Around your pupil and iris is your cornea, which is, under normal circumstances, spherical. As light hits your eye from all angles, part of the job of your cornea is to focus that light, aiming it toward the retina, right in the back of your eye. But what does it mean if the cornea is not perfectly spherical? The eye cannot project the light properly on a single focus on your retina, and will cause your vision to be blurred. This condition is known as astigmatism.
Many individuals have astigmatism and the condition usually comes with other vision issues that require vision correction. It oftentimes occurs during childhood and can cause eye fatigue, painful headaches and the tendency to squint when left uncorrected. In kids, it can lead to obstacles at school, particularly when it comes to reading or other visual tasks like drawing and writing. Anyone who works with fine details or at a computer monitor for extended lengths might find that it can be a problem.
Astigmatism can be detected by an eye test with an eye care professional and afterwards properly diagnosed with either an automated refraction or a retinoscopy exam, which measures the degree of astigmatism. The condition is commonly tended to with contact lenses or glasses, for those who prefer a non-invasive procedure, or refractive surgery, which changes 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 contact lenses have a tendency to move each time you close your eyes, even just to blink. But with astigmatism, the slightest movement can cause blurred vision. Toric lenses return to the same position immediately after you blink. You can find toric lenses in soft or hard lenses.
Astigmatism can also be rectified using laser surgery, or by orthokeratology (Ortho-K), a non-surgical alternative involving wearing rigid contacts to slowly reshape the cornea. It's advisable to discuss your options with your optometrist in order to decide what the best option is for your needs.
A person's astigmatism changes over time, so be sure that you are frequently making appointments to see your optometrist for a comprehensive exam. Additionally, make sure that you have your children's eyes checked before they begin school. Most of your child's schooling (and playing) is largely visual. You'll help your child get the most of his or her schooling with a full eye exam, which will help diagnose any visual irregularities before they impact academics, athletics, or other extra-curricular activities.