Eyeing the Problem: How to Identify and Correct Astigmatism

Astigmatism is a common eye condition wherein the cornea (the eye’s clear front layer) or lens (an inner portion of the eye that transmits and focuses light) has an irregular shape. Instead of focusing light rays on a single point on the retina, the unusual shape causes light rays to scatter and focus on multiple points, resulting in blurry or distorted vision.


What Causes Astigmatism?

The leading causes of astigmatism include:

  • Trauma: From scratches and abrasions to direct impact with a solid object, an injury to or near the eye may alter the shape of the cornea or lens.
  • Aging: As people become older, so do the eyes. While astigmatism can arise at any age, it can also develop with age, as the cornea can naturally develop an irregular shape over time.
  • Corneal scarring: Deep scratches and lacerations, improper use of contact lenses, and diseases such as syphilis and shingles can alter the cornea’s shape and lead to astigmatism.
  • Congenital astigmatism: Astigmatism can be present at birth.

The specific cause of astigmatism can vary from one person to another. In some cases, it may be challenging to determine the exact cause.


Identifying Astigmatism in Adults

As people age, they become more prone to vision problems, including astigmatism. This condition can impact daily activities and overall quality of life. If you’re experiencing any of these signs and symptoms, ensure to schedule a comprehensive eye exam with a Sun City optometrist or ophthalmologist:

  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Eye strain or fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Double vision
  • Squinting
  • Difficulty reading or driving
  • Seeing halos around lights

By diagnosing astigmatism early on, you can receive appropriate treatment to improve your vision and prevent further complications.


Understanding Your Astigmatism: How It’s Diagnosed

During a comprehensive eye exam, your Sun City eye doctor will perform several tests to diagnose astigmatism. These procedures may include:

  • Visual acuity test: Measures how well you can identify letters or numbers from a distance.
  • Refraction test: Determines the exact prescription needed to correct your vision
  • Keratometry test: Measures the cornea’s curvature, which is important in determining the degree and axis of astigmatism. This test helps guide the selection of appropriate corrective lenses or determine if further evaluation and treatment are necessary.

To determine if you have astigmatism, optometrists will typically perform these tests to evaluate your overall visual acuity, the degree of refractive error, and the curvature of your cornea. These diagnostics help optometrists determine the presence and severity of astigmatism and guide the selection of appropriate corrective lenses or treatments.

Related article: Why Eye Exams Are Important for Your Vision


How Your Doctor Can Help Address Your Astigmatism

If you have astigmatism, your eye doctor may recommend corrective lenses and measures to improve your vision. These could include:

  • Glasses: Corrective lenses in the form of glasses are a common and effective way to correct astigmatism. They can be prescribed to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
  • Contact lenses: Special toric contact lenses can correct the irregular curvature of the cornea and are an effective alternative to glasses. However, they require proper fitting and may cause discomfort or dryness for some people. If you need help deciding between glasses and contact lenses, add this guide to your reading list.
  • Refractive surgery: In some cases, refractive surgery such as LASIK or Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) can correct astigmatism by reshaping the cornea. Your eye doctor in Phoenix, AZ, will determine if you are a good candidate for surgery based on your overall health, age, and lifestyle.


Eye Conditions Associated with Astigmatism

Astigmatism can also occur alongside other ocular conditions, including nearsightedness and farsightedness. Nearsightedness, or myopia, occurs when light focuses in front of the retina instead of on it, resulting in blurry vision when looking at distant objects. Farsightedness, also known as hyperopia, happens when light focuses behind the retina rather than on it, resulting in blurry vision when focusing on nearby objects. When astigmatism arises with these conditions, it can further contribute to cloudy or distorted vision.


Ways to Preserve Your Vision

While preventing astigmatism may not always be possible, there are ways to maintain healthy eyes and reduce the risk of developing astigmatism and other vision problems. For instance, you may preserve your eyesight by making these simple lifestyle choices:

  • Avoid smoking: Smoking significantly increases your risk of developing eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy.
  • Follow a nutritious diet: As a diet rich in vitamins and minerals promotes good eye health, include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and foods high in omega-3s, such as fish, in your diet.
  • Maintain proper lighting: A well-lit room or workspace can help prevent eye strain.
  • Mind your posture: Having good posture reduces neck, shoulder, and back strain, which, in turn, may alleviate eye strain and support healthy vision.
  • Get enough sleep: Getting adequate sleep is vital for maintaining healthy vision and reducing both eye strain and fatigue. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of restful sleep each night to keep your eyes and body well-rested.
  • Wear protective eyewear: If you engage in physical activities that increase your chances of sustaining eye injuries, such as playing hockey or participating in airsoft survival games, always wear protective eyewear.
  • Get regular eye exams: Regular eye exams are crucial for detecting and addressing vision changes or eye diseases early, including astigmatism. Commit to seeing an eye doctor at least once every two years or as recommended by an eye care specialist.

In addition to the steps mentioned above, incorporating eye exercises into your daily routine may also improve eye health and reduce eye strain. Some simple eye exercises include blinking rapidly for a few seconds, rolling your eyes clockwise and counterclockwise, and focusing on a distant object for a few seconds before refocusing on something nearby. 

Taking breaks from staring at screens for prolonged periods and practicing the 20-20-20 rule (taking a 20-second break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away) can also help reduce eye strain and fatigue. However, it’s important to note that eye exercises are not substitutes for professional eye care and regular eye exams.


Take Action to Manage Astigmatism for Clear Vision and Eye Health

Managing astigmatism requires a combination of professional diagnosis, treatment, and lifestyle changes to maintain good eye health for years to come. By staying informed and taking the necessary steps to manage the condition, individuals can enjoy near-perfect or good vision for years.

If you are long overdue for an eye checkup, contact us today at 623 – 474 – 3937 (EYES) to schedule your consultation.



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