All about ASTIGMATISM

A few posts ago we talked about Myopia, an eye health problem that affects millions of people every year. We discussed its most common causes, symptoms, its effects, correcting methods and even popular myths. However, if you belong to a different club, particularly to the Astigmatic club, in this post we’ve got you covered. If you would like to know if you are a member, or you are just curious of what Astigmatism is all about, simply keep on reading.

Astigmatism is known to be one of the most misunderstood vision problems. It does not pose any real threat to your overall eye health, as it’s simply a refractive error of the eye that affects how it focuses light. Having astigmatism means that your eye is more rugby-ball-shaped rather than football-shaped. Therefore, light is focused on multiple points within the eye, instead of precisely on the retina. This irregular eye shape is what causes blurry or distorted vision from any distance.

As if astigmatism wasn’t complex enough, it can be found in addition to any short- sightedness or long- sightedness. Therefore you could well be a member of two clubs at the same time. Lucky you!

Credit: Exeter Eye

Credit: Exeter Eye

Do you think there is a chance you might have started to develop Astigmatism? If you have blurry, distorted or fuzzy vision at all distances, difficulty seeing at night or you squint, get eyestrain or headaches, especially at the end of the day, then there is a chance you might have become astigmatic.

These symptoms tend to be overlooked and are easy to miss or mistaken for another issue (too much time spent using a computer, for example). This is why it’s so important to check with a professional optometrist to see what is really going on with your eyesight.

If you have recently discovered you are astigmatic, don’t panic just yet. Astigmatism is one of the most common vision problems in the world. Research has shown that approximately 30 percent of varying populations experience astigmatism. It has also been found that ethnicity plays a big role in determining the chances of becoming astigmatic, with Asian and Hispanic children being 33.6 and 36.9 percent more likely to develop astigmatism respectively.

The causes of astigmatism are (somewhat) unclear. As we mentioned before, an irregularly-shaped cornea is the main effect that causes blurry vision. However, many optometrists and researchers haven’t found a determined reason as to why this happens in the first place.

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What we do know is people who have astigmatism are sometimes born with this condition, meaning their eye resembles a rugby ball to begin with. Trauma or injury to the eye may force the shape to change too, though this is unlikely. One way you can’t get astigmatism, though, is by sitting too close to the television. While this was once believed to be a definite way to develop astigmatism, consider that myth debunked.

You might want to thank your mum and dad for this one, as it is believed that genetics also plays a big role in the development of astigmatism. The irregular shape of your eye could well be a trait your parents passed on to you, just like the colour of your eyes.

The good news is that astigmatism can be easily corrected with glasses and contact lenses.

One thing is clear (no pun intended), there is no reason the diagnosis of astigmatism will prevent you of living your life to the fullest, we can guarantee you that.

Valeria Martinez

Fashion Executive for The Eye Establishment

HEALTHNadeem Rob