by TINCY THOMAS, O.D.
You were told that you have astigmatism—a seemingly scary term! Luckily, it’s not usually a cause for concern. What is astigmatism? Astigmatism is a condition that causes blurry vision, much like nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia). However, with astigmatism, your cornea or lens inside the eye may be irregularly shaped, similar to a football instead of a basketball. Astigmatism can occur alongside nearsightedness or farsightedness.
Commonly, the symptoms of astigmatism include:
– Blurry vision at any distance
– Stretching of headlights while driving at night
– Eye strain
Why me? Well, there are several causes of astigmatism. It can be hereditary, present at birth, or develop over time. More concerningly, astigmatism can also be caused by trauma to the eye, surgeries, or corneal thinning disorders such as keratoconus. During a comprehensive eye exam, your doctor will check your vision, measure the shape of your cornea with a keratometer or corneal topographer, and determine your glasses and contact lens prescriptions with a phoropter. Your eye doctor will also use a microscope called a slit lamp to take a closer look at the health of the cornea and lens of your eyes. A combination of these tests will determine if you have astigmatism.
Fortunately, there are several ways to correct astigmatism. Glasses are the most common choice. Adding an anti-reflective coating on the lenses helps minimize some of the glare caused by astigmatism. Contact lenses are placed on the eyes to correct astigmatism, and specialty contact lenses are available for those with irregular astigmatism induced by corneal disorders, trauma, or surgeries. Additionally, refractive surgical procedures exist to correct astigmatism. Not all types or amounts of astigmatism are considered eligible for these procedures, so discuss this option with your doctor to see if you are a good candidate.
Please schedule an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam to determine the best treatment for your astigmatism. Call us at 800-282-3937 or visit us online at EYESFL.COM.
Bio: Dr. Tincy Thomas is a board-certified optometrist who sees patients at the Lakeland-Highlands location for Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida. She specializes in primary care optometry, contact lenses, dry eye disease, and pediatric eye care.