Around your iris and pupil is your cornea, which is, under usual circumstances, round. When light hits your eye, part of the job of your cornea is to help focus that light, directing it to the retina, right in the back of your eye. But what is the result if the cornea is not exactly round? The eye cannot focus the light properly on one focal point on your retina's surface, and will cause your vision to be blurred. This condition is referred to as astigmatism.
Astigmatism is actually a fairly common diagnosis, and mostly comes with other refractive errors that require vision correction. It frequently occurs during childhood and can cause eye fatigue, painful headaches and squinting when untreated. With kids, it may cause challenges in school, especially when it comes to reading or other visual tasks. Sufferers who work with fine details or at a computer monitor for extended periods of time may find that the condition can be problematic.
Astigmatism is detected by a routine eye exam with an eye care professional and afterwards properly diagnosed with either an automated refraction or a retinoscopy test, which checks the amount of astigmatism. The condition is commonly tended to with contact lenses or glasses, or refractive surgery, which changes the way that light hits the eye, letting the retina get the light correctly.
With contacts, the patient might be prescribed toric lenses, which permit the light to curve more in one direction than another. Regular contacts have a tendency to shift each time you close your eyes, even just to blink. But with astigmatism, the most subtle eye movement can cause blurred vision. Toric lenses are able to return to the exact same position immediately after you blink. Toric contact lenses are available as soft or rigid varieties, to be chosen depending on what is more comfortable for you.
In some cases, astigmatism can also be rectified using laser surgery, or by orthokeratology (Ortho-K), a non-surgical procedure that involves wearing hard lenses to slowly change the shape of the cornea during the night. You should discuss your options with your optometrist to determine what your best option might be.
A person's astigmatism changes over time, so be sure that you are regularly visiting your optometrist for a comprehensive test. Additionally, be sure that you have your children's eyes checked before they begin school. A considerable amount of your child's education (and playing) is mostly visual. You can help your child make the best of his or her year with a thorough eye exam, which will diagnose any visual abnormalities before they begin to affect schooling, play, or other activities.