The common vision problem you don’t hear so much about
Short-sighted and long-sighted: these are commonly known terms when it comes to errors of vision. But what do we know about astigmatism?
Astigmatism means that the eye has difficulty focusing light. In a normal eye, light comes to a single focus on the retina. This allows the eye clear sight.
An eye with astigmatism, however, has multiple points of focus, causing details to appear more blurry. In one UK study of over 11,000 glasses wearers, 47.4 per cent were found to have some degree of astigmatism.
What are the symptoms?
Those who have astigmatism will experience blurred vision at all distances to some extent, but especially from afar. They might also experience headaches as a result. This is different from simply being near or farsighted. In fact, a person can have 20/20 vision and still have astigmatism.
How is it caused?
Astigmatism happens as a result of a misshaped cornea. Rather than the round shape a normal eye would have, an astigmatic eye is more oval shaped, which changes its ability to focus light.
Should I get tested?
During your regular routine eye exam, your doctor should check for astigmatism in the same way they would check for other vision problems. If you or your grandchildren have trouble focusing on detail, you should book an eye exam and talk to your doctor about your concerns.
How can I fix it?
While it can sometimes worsen with age, astigmatism is not a degenerative disease. As such, astigmatism can generally be corrected with glasses or contact lenses, as well as refractive surgery.