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Senior woman squinting while reading a newspaper on a couch.

When it comes to understanding astigmatism, many people have heard of it, but don’t actually know what it is. If someone tried to explain astigmatism and it sounded Greek to you, that’s because it is. Well, sort of. To be clear, the word astigmatism has its origin in Greek and means “without stigma.” But it also might sound Greek to you because it’s one of the more challenging eye conditions to understand. Let’s break it down.

What is Astigmatism?

The primary purpose of the cornea and lens in your eye is to direct light through the retina. For vision to be clear, the cornea and lens of the eye are very spherical in shape. However, when you have astigmatism, it means the cornea, lens, or both the cornea and lens are more oval in shape than spherical. It’s often described as having a football shaped eye. While it is very common, there is no known cause for astigmatism. It’s a hereditary condition and usually present from birth. It can also develop following an eye injury and may increase or decrease in severity over time. The bottom line is that astigmatism can distort your vision and cause a variety of issues including:

  • Blurry vision
  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches
  • Trouble focusing

How Do They Diagnose Astigmatism?

Your eye doctor can assess the level of astigmatism during a comprehensive eye exam. They may use a keratometer to accurately measure the exact curvature of your cornea and will also test your visual acuity.  

Can You Treat Astigmatism?

The good news is that there are different treatments for astigmatism. Depending on the severity, these treatments can range from corrective lenses to corrective surgery. Your eye doctor will consider other conditions that may be present such as nearsightedness or farsightedness. These refractive errors effect how the eye refracts or bends light and are often also present with astigmatism. Your eye exam may include using an instrument called a phoropter to evaluate how your eyes focus to light using a series of lenses to determine which ones give you the clearest vision. In some cases, your doctor will prescribe corrective surgery such as Lasik (laser in situ keratomileusis) or PRK (photorefractive keratectomy).

The most important thing about understanding astigmatism is that keeping up with regular eye exams is the best way to keep your eyes healthy and focused. If you’re experiencing vision issues, contact the caring professionals at Tyson Eye and schedule your comprehensive eye exam today.

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