What is an Astigmatism

It is estimated that 33% of the population has an astigmatism. Also, that 70% of glasses prescriptions has the correction for an astigmatism in the prescription. So, what is an astigmatism, what will you notice with an astigmatism, what causes an astigmatism, and what can be done to fix it? These are questions that most eye doctors or optometrists field on a daily basis. 

What is it?

An astigmatism is when the front part of the eye, the cornea, is not shaped perfectly round. Instead of the cornea being round it is more football shaped causing light to come into focus in two spots instead of one. Not a big deal perfectly “normal”, but not the ideal situation for clear vision.

What might you notice?

You might notice lights, such as car headlights, which should have a circle of glare around them instead have an area of glare that is longer than others. You also might notice images are slightly out of focus or have a slight shadow or ghost image to them. If uncorrected it can also frequently cause low grade dull type daily headaches.

What causes it?

There is a genetic component to astigmatism, so you have your ancestors to partially blame for the astigmatism. Currently, 23andMe and other genetic testing websites don’t test for it. However, new research shows that they may have found a gene that causes near sightedness. Injury to the eye can sometimes cause this as well. As a medical community we aren’t 100% certain of the causes, but we do know those things can play a role in someone having an astigmatism. However, it is a myth that reading in low light environments can cause it.

What can be done to fix it?

Glasses, contacts, or refractive surgery like LASIK can easily correct an astigmatism and rid the things you might notice from the astigmatism. When it comes to the glasses it is an extremely easy fix. Depending on how high it is will determine if certain eyeglass frame styles are an option for you. Most contact lens companies will make a toric version of contact lenses. Sometimes the contacts have to be hard, but most of the time soft will work.

If you still have questions or want to know if you have an astigmatism come by our Broken Arrow office for an eye examination or contact us another way.

Here is a link to the Academy of Ophthalmology website if you would like to learn more AAO.

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Dr. James Thirion an Optometrist in Broken Arrow

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