5 Answers to the Most Common Questions on Astigmatism

 

It is through our eyes that we can see and experience the beauty of the world around us, yet more and more people seem to be neglecting proper eye care.

Statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) how that more than 285 million people around the world are visually impaired, with 86% suffering from some form of refractive error that causes low vision.

On the bright side, a study published by the Philippine Journal of Ophthalmology in 2008 found that treating refractive errors greatly reduced the number of people with visual disability. This means that more people should be informed of the different refractive errors and how these can be treated.

Introducing the Refractive Errors 101 Series

Welcome to the first post in Refractive Errors 101— our blog series that aims to promote awareness of the importance of proper eyecare. Each month, we’ll publish a post discussing common refractive errors – imperfections in the eye — that may affect your vision.

To start the series, we’ll talk about Astigmatism. You may know this as a condition that develops because of spending too much time in front of a computer screen, which isn’t wrong, but astigmatism is a lot more than that.

What is Astigmatism?

To give a clearer picture, eye doctors typically describe the eyes of someone who has astigmatism as being shaped “more like a football instead of basketball.” This imperfection of the cornea results in objects coming off as blurred at all distances.

Most of the time, astigmatism also occurs with other refractive eye errors such as myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness), which we’ll talk about in the next posts in this series.

Risks of Getting Astigmatism

Astigmatism is a very common eye condition, affecting about 1 in 3 individuals around the world. In the US alone, about 150 million Americans are wearing eyeglasses to correct eye conditions like astigmatism.

No conclusive answer states how and why astigmatism develops, as some people are born with it, while some develop it while growing up. Some studies also say it is a genetic trait that can be passed down to offspring.

What’s clear is that both children and adults are at risk of being affected at some point in their life. The common stigma is that too much computer use can cause astigmatism and other damage to the eyes, although there hasn’t been any substantial research yet to prove so.

Still, excessive computer use can cause the same symptoms as astigmatism, so it might be a good idea to give your eyes a break every now and then.

That said, here are some answers to the most common questions you probably hear about astigmatism.

questions about astigmatism

There are different tests which eye doctors use to determine the presence of astigmatism in patients:

1. Vision Tests

These are your typical chart of letters or symbols that your eye doctor asks you to read from across the room to determine the degree of correction your eyes need.

2. Keratometer

A keratometer is a device used by eye doctors to measure the light reflection from the cornea, as well as the curvature of the cornea to determine if the patient may have astigmatism or other refractive issues.

3. Light Focus

Eye doctors use different instruments like the phoropter and retinoscope to measure how the cornea refracts light. This gives eye doctors an idea into the best treatment for your eye condition.

 

There are 3 main ways to correct astigmatism:

1. Wearing prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses

Most cases of astigmatism are mild, and therefore, wearing prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses is an ideal solution.

In the US alone, more than 150 million people are wearing some form of corrective eyewear to remedy refractive errors like astigmatism.

2. Lasik surgery

If you want a permanent solution, then undergoing Lasik and other forms or surgery may be your choice. Make sure to consult with your eye doctor first and have a thorough discussion on the matter to decide if surgery is the right option for you.

3. Eye exercises

Because our eyes are made up of muscle tissues, doing regular eye exercises can improve your eyesight.

Ask your eye doctor which eye exercises can improve your vision. You can also download mobile apps that have guides for eye exercises you can do anywhere.

 

Conclusion

There’s an adage that says “nobody is perfect,” and if your cornea isn’t perfect, there’s no reason to worry. Astigmatism in most cases is mild and doesn’t require surgery. Just consult your eye specialist, get a rocking pair of prescription eyeglasses, and you’re ready to take on the world!

Stay tuned for the next post in Refractive Errors 101 where we’ll talk about another type of refractive error called Myopia.


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