What is astigmatism, and how is it treated?

Along with farsightedness and nearsightedness, astigmatism is one of the most common vision problems. These are all refractive errors of the eye that occur when the eye fails to focus light properly. Refractive errors are very common, and they are the reason most people visit their ophthalmologist. Astigmatism is perhaps the least known of the refractive errors, so what exactly is astigmatism?

Mild forms of astigmatism can go untreated, but in severe cases vision becomes blurred. Other symptoms include headaches, difficulty seeing fine details, andeye strains. Astigmatism often occurs alongside other refractive errors, i.e. farsightedness and nearsightedness.

What is astigmatism?
Astigmatism is an eye disorder characterized by distorted vision. The condition occurs because of the irregular curvature of the cornea of the eye. The cornea allows light into the eye, and is usually round in shape. Therefore when light enters the eye the light rays bend evenly, allowing you to see the image clearly.

However,  for those individuals with astigmatism, the cornea is not round, but oval in shape. Consequently the  light is not bent by the lens and cornea correctly. The rays of the light that enter the eyes bend unequally, and this completely throws off the focus, resulting in a distorted image.

Causes
Astigmatism is often present at birth, but it may also develop in later years. Doctors are not quite sure what causes astigmatism, but genetics is believed to be a contributing factor. The condition can also result from aneye injury, or as a consequence of eye surgery. In cases where surgery causes scarring of the cornea, this will affect the way light enters the eye.

Treatment
At the New View Eye Center they offer treatment for mild to severe cases of  astigmatism. Mild cases can be treated with eyeglasses and contact lenses, sever cases require surgery. Refractive eye surgery can correct astigmatism, as there are techniques that can reshape the cornea.

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