Are you currently experiencing blurred vision or difficulty seeing at night or other low-light conditions? You may have astigmatism. While online astigmatism tests can provide a starting point, let the experts at Shreveport Eye Specialists help you determine if you suffer from this common eye condition.
What is astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a common vision condition in which vision blurs. It can affect one or both eyes.
What is the difference between a regular and irregular astigmatism?
A regular astigmatism is when the cornea curves more in one direction than the other. It is the most common form of astigmatism and corrected easily with glasses or toric contact lenses.
An irregular astigmatism is less common and occurs as a result of the uneven curvature of the cornea. It cannot always be corrected with specialty glasses, but sometimes contact lenses can aid in the correction of the condition.
What causes astigmatism?
Astigmatism occurs when there is an irregularly shaped cornea or imperfectly curved lens over the eye. Simply put, the eye shape is closer that that of a football and oblong instead of round like a basketball. There is not an agreed-upon cause of astigmatism. Some people are born with astigmatism, while others see it develop over adolescence. Astigmatism can also develop following trauma to the eye or an invasive procedure like eye surgery.
What are the symptoms of astigmatism?
Astigmatism is usually accompanied by near-sightedness or farsightedness. Other symptoms include blurred vision, eyestrain, headaches, and difficulty seeing at night.
Another common sign of astigmatism is the need to squint to improve eyesight. People with astigmatism often avoid reading due to the discomfort associated with the process.
How can I check for astigmatism?
The most reliable method for diagnosis of astigmatism is a complete eye exam performed by an eye doctor. The doctor uses various lenses and lights to determine if there are issues with the manner in which light refracts in the eye. Three tests are used primarily to diagnose astigmatism:
- Refraction test. a series of lenses are placed in front of the eye and measure how the eyes focus light enters. The power level of focus adjusts to determine the degree of astigmatism. Corrective lense power is also determined through this test.
- Visual acuity test. The visual acuity test is a test most people are familiar with. It involved reading letters and numbers on a chart from a set distance. This is where the common “20/20, 20/40” vision metrics originate.
- Keratometry/topography. A device known as a keratometer is used to measure corneal curvature. The measurement helps to diagnose astigmatism and determine the proper fit for corrective contact lenses.
Are online astigmatism tests reliable?
Online astigmatism tests can give an accurate representation of whether or not additional treatment or screening is necessary. But, for the best results, seeing a trained eye care professional is the best way to fully determine an eye condition.
The American Optometric Association feels that while the online tests are a good place to begin the research process, the effectiveness of seeing a trained professional cannot be matched. According to past AOA president Steven A. Loomis, O.D., “The AOA’s primary concern is that patient health and safety is at risk due to lack of understanding as to what services an online vision test company actually offers and can deliver to consumers.”
“When a patient comes into the office for an examination we do so much more than just update a prescription for glasses or contacts. Our tests are specialized for the needs of each individual and allow us to check the overall health of our patients. By analyzing images of the back of the eye, for example, we can see how a patient’s blood vessels are functioning which can signify serious conditions like hypertension that often go undetected. The eyes are the window to your well-being and their care cannot be left to a computer and a smartphone.”
Does using a screen frequently cause astigmatism?
Despite the popular belief that sitting too close to a screen or reading in dark conditions can damage your eyesight, the frequent use of electronic screens does not contribute to astigmatism. It does, however, increase eye strain. These activities do not have direct influence on the development of astigmatism.
What are the long-term effects of astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a lifelong condition unless treated. It may worsen over time if left untreated. Typically, it remains somewhat stable throughout life. A lazy eye can develop if astigmatism occurs in one eye and is left untreated.
What are treatment options for astigmatism?
There are several treatment options for astigmatism. Correction is possible with glasses, specialized contacts, or in severe cases surgery. Glasses remain a standard choice for most people. Contact lenses are used most effectively with hard lenses, especially in severe instances. The process of wearing a series of hard corrective lenses to reshape the cornea is known as orhtokeratology. Soft lenses used to treat astigmatism lack the effectiveness of hard lenses, but can still be used.
Surgery remains an option for those suffering from dry eyes or other conditions that prevent them from wearing corrective lenses.
LASIK is the most popular type of surgery used for astigmatism correction. During the procedure, an incision is made on the surface of the eye, creating a small flap of tissue. The surgeon lifts the flap and a laser corrects the irregularity in curvature. Once the correction is completed, the flap is replaced. Approximately 800,000 people underwent LASIK surgery in 2010.
Contact Shreveport Eye Specialists
If you feel that you may be a candidate for astigmatism treatment, or you are experiencing any other issues with your vision, contact the experts at Shreveport Eye Specialists today at 318.771.7597 and schedule a consultation and exam. You can also leave a message for the team on our website.