Astigmatism is a vision condition caused by an irregularly-shaped cornea or lens. The cornea is the front cover of the eye, and the lens is located inside the eye.

Astigmatism stops light from focusing on the retina, which is found at the back of the eye. This can cause your vision to be blurry at any distance, which can lead to headaches or eye pain. Mild astigmatism is very common and usually doesn’t affect your vision, cause pain, or require treatment. However, more severe astigmatism will require glasses or contacts for correction.

What causes astigmatism?

Astigmatism occurs when the cornea or lens is curved improperly and prevents light from focusing on the retina. However, the specific cause of the condition is unknown. It sometimes occurs as a result of an eye surgery or eye injury. It can also be caused by keratoconus, a rare condition where the cornea becomes thinner and more cone-like. This leads to severe astigmatism that can’t be corrected with glasses. People with this condition will need special contacts or a corneal transplant to correct their vision.

How is astigmatism diagnosed?

Astigmatism is diagnosed with an eye exam that measures how your eyes focus light. Your optometrist may test your visual acuity, which involves reading letters on a distance chart. Visual acuity is measured as a fraction, such as 20/20 or 20/40. For example, someone with 20/40 vision would have to be 20 feet away to read a letter that a person with normal vision would be able to read at 40 feet away.

a Coral Springs optometrists also sometimes give keratometry tests, which measure the curvature of your cornea using a keratometer. This tool works by focusing light on the cornea and measuring the reflection, which determines the curvature of the surface of the cornea. Keratometry tests are especially helpful for discovering the proper shape or fit for corrective contacts.

Your Dr. Gendal may use a retinoscope to determine how your eyes focus light. After performing several tests, Vision World will be able to use the results to determine whether you have astigmatism.

How is astigmatism treated?

Depending on the severity of astigmatism, you can choose from several treatment options. The most common choice is eyeglasses with a special cylindrical lens that correct astigmatism. Some people also choose contact lenses, which can work more powerfully than glasses and provide a wider field of view.

You can try orthokeratology, which involves a series of contact lenses that reshape the cornea. You’ll wear the contacts for short periods of time, often overnight, before removing them. This doesn’t permanently improve vision, but it can provide short term relief.

Laser surgery can permanently correct astigmatism by reshaping the cornea. LASIK surgery removes tissue from the inner layer of the cornea, and photorefractive keratectomy, or PRK, removes tissue from the inner and outer layers.

Astigmatism can cause headaches or discomfort, but an optometrist can provide treatment. If you think you may have astigmatism or another vision problem, call Vision World of Coral Springs to schedule an appointment.