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What is astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a common eye condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is a refractive error that causes blurred or distorted vision due to an irregular shape of the cornea or lens of the eye. In this blog post, we will discuss what astigmatism is, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

What is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a type of refractive error that occurs when the cornea or lens of the eye is irregularly shaped. Normally, the cornea and lens are round or spherical in shape, which allows light to enter the eye and focus on a single point on the retina, providing clear vision. However, in astigmatism, the cornea or lens is shaped more like a football or oval, causing light to be scattered and focus on multiple points on the retina. This results in blurry or distorted vision.

Astigmatism is a common eye condition that affects both children and adults. It can be present at birth or develop later in life. It can occur in combination with nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia).

Causes of Astigmatism

Astigmatism can be caused by a number of factors, including genetics, eye injuries, and certain medical conditions. Some people are born with astigmatism, while others may develop it later in life. The following are some of the most common causes of astigmatism:

  1. Genetics: Astigmatism can be inherited from parents. If one or both parents have astigmatism, their children are more likely to develop it.

  2. Eye injuries: An injury to the eye, such as a blow to the head or face, can cause astigmatism.

  3. Eye surgery: Some types of eye surgery, such as cataract surgery, can cause astigmatism.

  4. Keratoconus: This is a condition that causes the cornea to become thin and cone-shaped, leading to astigmatism.

  5. Corneal scarring: Scarring of the cornea can cause astigmatism.

Symptoms of Astigmatism

The symptoms of astigmatism can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Some people with mild astigmatism may not experience any symptoms, while others with more severe astigmatism may have significant vision problems. The following are some of the most common symptoms of astigmatism:

  1. Blurred or distorted vision: This is the most common symptom of astigmatism. Objects may appear blurry or distorted, and straight lines may appear wavy or crooked.

  2. Eye strain: People with astigmatism may experience eye strain, especially when reading or using a computer.

  3. Headaches: Frequent headaches, especially after reading or doing close work, can be a symptom of astigmatism.

  4. Squinting: People with astigmatism may squint to try to see more clearly.

  5. Difficulty seeing at night: Astigmatism can cause difficulty seeing in low-light conditions, such as at night or in dimly lit rooms.

Diagnosis of Astigmatism

Astigmatism can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam by an eye doctor. During the exam, the doctor will perform a series of tests to determine the exact nature and extent of the astigmatism. These tests may include:

  1. Visual acuity test: This test measures how well a person can see at various distances.

  2. Refraction test: This test measures the eye's ability to focus light.

  3. Keratometry: This test measures the curvature of the cornea.

  4. Corneal topography: This test maps the surface of the cornea.

  5. Retinoscopy: This test measures how light reflects off the retina.

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