Astigmatism is a vision condition that affects many Canadians in varying degrees. Astigmatism causes blurred vision and can range from not requiring any kind of treatment to causing distorted vision, eye discomfort and headaches. However, this condition can be corrected using prescription eyewear or, in extreme cases, surgery.
What is It?
Astigmatism is a refractive error that occurs when the cornea has an irregular shape that prevents light from focusing properly on the retina—resulting in blurred vision at all distances. Like nearsightedness or farsightedness, it’s a refractive error—a problem with how the eye focuses light. Instead of one focal point, astigmatism forces focal points (either in front or behind the retina) that cause blurry vision.
Why Does it Occur?
Astigmatism can occur from several reasons, but it most often develops early in life as a result of differences in the growth and alignment of the eye. Genetics and/or pressure of the eyelids on the cornea can be blamed as well as the possibility of developing the condition after an eye injury or eye surgery.
Like other vision conditions, astigmatism is diagnosed during an eye exam with a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist. As part of a comprehensive vision exam, an eye doctor can detect astigmatism using the same tools that detect farsightedness and nearsightedness, and can determine the degree of astigmatism with a retinoscopy or automated refraction.
Most forms of astigmatism can be corrected; there are a few options available depending on the severity and a person’s specific needs:
Prescription Eyewear – Through the use of properly prescribed and fitted eyeglasses or contact lenses made for astigmatism, vision can return to normal for most people. There are even specially made contact lenses (called toric lenses) that those with astigmatism can wear.
Refractive Surgery – Usually through the use of lasers, the shape of the cornea can be reshaped to allow light to correctly enter the eye. This is an extreme correcting method and should only be considered if prescription eyewear doesn’t work.
The only way to diagnose astigmatism is through a comprehensive eye exam, schedule yours today through our Eye Exam Centre.
Hakim Optical is dedicated to your eye health. Fully licensed in-store opticians and optometrists at our Eye Exam Centres are certified to assess your eye health and provide recommendations to fulfill your vision needs.