The cornea around your pupil and iris is, under usual conditions, spherical. As light enters the eye, part of the job of your cornea is to help focus that light, aiming it to the retina, in the anterior portion of your eye. But what is the result if the cornea isn't exactly round? The eye cannot focus the light correctly on a single focal point on your retina, and will blur your vision. This condition is called astigmatism.
Many individuals have astigmatism and the condition frequently comes with other vision problems such as nearsightedness or farsightedness. Astigmatism frequently occurs during childhood and often causes eye strain, headaches and the tendency to squint when left untreated. With children, it can lead to difficulty in the classroom, often when it comes to reading or other visual tasks like drawing and writing. Those working with particularly small or detailed objects or at a computer monitor for excessive periods may find that the condition can be problematic.
Diagnosis of astigmatism starts with a routine eye test with an eye care professional. Once detected, an automated refraction or a retinoscopy exam is performed to calculate the degree of astigmatism. Astigmatism is commonly tended to with contacts or eyeglasses, or refractive surgery, which alters the flow of light onto the retina to readjust the focal point.
Toric lenses are commonly prescribed for astigmatism because they control the way the light bends when it enters the eye. Regular contacts have a tendency to shift when you close your eyes, even just to blink. With astigmatism, the smallest eye movement can cause blurred vision. Toric lenses return to the same place immediately after you blink. You can find toric contact lenses as soft or hard lenses.
In some cases, astigmatism may also be rectified by laser surgery, or by orthokeratology (Ortho-K), a non-surgical alternative that involves wearing special hard lenses to gradually change the shape of the cornea during the night. It's advisable to explore options with your optometrist in order to determine what the best option is for your needs.
For help demonstrating the effects of astigmatism to children, show them a circular teaspoon and an oval teaspoon. In the round one, their mirror image will appear normal. In the oval spoon, their reflection will be skewed. And this is what astigmatism means for your eye; those affected wind up viewing the world stretched out a bit.
A person's astigmatism changes over time, so be sure that you are frequently making appointments to see your eye doctor for a proper exam. Also, make sure that your 'back-to-school' list includes a trip to an eye care professional. A considerable amount of your child's education (and playing) is largely visual. You can allow your child make the best of his or her schooling with a comprehensive eye exam, which will detect any visual irregularities before they impact education, sports, or other activities.