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Astigmatism: All You Need to Know About This Common Condition

Surrounding your iris and pupil is your cornea, which is, under perfect conditions, spherical. As light enters the eye, the cornea's role is to help project that light, directing it to your retina, right in the back of your eye. What happens if the cornea isn't perfectly spherical? The eye is not able to project the light properly on a single focal point on your retina's surface, and sight gets blurred. This condition is known as astigmatism.

Astigmatism is actually not a uncommon diagnosis, and usually accompanies other refractive errors that require vision correction. Astigmatism oftentimes occurs during childhood and can cause eye fatigue, headaches and squinting when uncorrected. In children, it may cause challenges at school, particularly when it comes to highly visual skills such as reading or writing. Anyone who works with fine details or at a computer monitor for extended lengths might find that it can be problematic.

Diagnosis of astigmatism starts with a routine eye test with an optometrist. Once detected, an automated refraction or a retinoscopy test is performed to check the severity of astigmatism. Astigmatism is commonly tended to by contact lenses or glasses, or refractive surgery, which changes the way that light hits the eye, allowing your retina to get the light properly.

Toric lenses are commonly prescribed for astigmatism because they control the way the light bends when it enters the eye. Standard contacts have a tendency to move each time you blink. But with astigmatism, the most subtle eye movement can totally blur your sight. Toric lenses return to the exact same place right after you blink. Toric lenses can be found in soft or rigid varieties, to be chosen depending on what is more comfortable for you.

Astigmatism can also be rectified by laser surgery, or by orthokeratology (Ortho-K), a non-surgical procedure that involves wearing special rigid contact lenses to slowly reshape the cornea during the night. It's advisable to explore your options and alternatives with your eye doctor to decide what your best option is for your needs.

When explaining astigmatism to children, let them look at the back of two teaspoons - one round and one oval. In the round teaspoon, an reflection will appear regular. In the oval spoon, they will be skewed. This is what astigmatism means for your vision; those affected end up viewing everything stretched out a little.

Astigmatism can get better or worse gradually, so make sure that you're periodically visiting your optometrist for a proper exam. Also, make sure your 'back-to-school' list includes a trip to an eye care professional. A considerable amount of your child's education (and playing) is mostly a function of their vision. You'll help your child make the best of his or her schooling with a full eye exam, which will help detect any visual irregularities before they begin to impact academics, play, or other activities.

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