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Focusing on Astigmatism

The cornea that surrounds your iris and pupil is, under usual circumstances, round. When light enters your eye, part of the role of your cornea is to focus that light, aiming it to your retina, in the back of your eye. But what does it mean when the cornea isn't perfectly round? The eye is not able to direct the light properly on a single focus on your retina, and vision becomes blurred. Such a situation is referred to as astigmatism.

Many individuals have astigmatism and the condition frequently comes with other vision errors like nearsightedness or farsightedness. Astigmatism oftentimes occurs during childhood and often causes eye strain, painful headaches and squinting when uncorrected. With kids, it may cause difficulty at school, particularly when it comes to highly visual skills such as reading or writing. Those working with particularly small or detailed objects or at a computer monitor for long lengths of time might experience more difficulty with astigmatism.

Astigmatism can be detected in a routine eye test with an optometrist and then fully diagnosed with either an automated refraction or a retinoscopy exam, which calculates the degree of astigmatism. Astigmatism is commonly corrected with contacts or glasses, or refractive surgery, which changes the flow of light onto the retina to readjust the focal point.

Toric lenses are commonly prescribed for astigmatism because they control the way the light bends when it enters the eye. Regular contact lenses shift when you blink. With astigmatism, the smallest movement can cause blurred vision. Toric lenses return to the same place immediately after you blink. You can find toric lenses as soft or hard varieties, to be chosen depending on what is more comfortable for you.

Astigmatism may also be rectified using laser surgery, or by orthokeratology (Ortho-K), a non-surgical procedure that involves the use of rigid lenses to gradually change the shape of the cornea during the night. It's advisable to discuss your options with your eye care professional in order to decide what your best choice might be.

When demonstrating the effects of astigmatism to young, small children, show them the back of two teaspoons – one round and one oval. In the circular one, their mirror image appears proportionate. In the oval one, their face will be skewed. And this is what astigmatism means for your sight; those affected end up seeing the world stretched out a little.

A person's astigmatism changes gradually, so be sure that you're regularly seeing your eye doctor for a proper test. Also, be sure you have your children's eyes checked before they begin school. Most of your child's schooling (and playing) is mostly visual. You can help your child make the best of his or her year with a thorough eye exam, which will help diagnose any visual irregularities before they affect education, athletics, or other activities. It's important to know that astigmatism is very treatable, and that the sooner to you begin to treat it, the better off your child will be.