If you have astigmatism, the curvature of the transparent front part of your eye, called the cornea, may not be perfectly round. The shape of the cornea would be oblong – similar to an American football. In contrast, a normal cornea is evenly shaped like a basketball.
The asymmetry seen in astigmatism can consist of varying degrees of flatness and steepness in the cornea, depending on the type of astigmatism diagnosed. Due to this unevenness, incoming light rays are not put into sharp focus on the retina.
Next to this general classification, there are three types of astigmatism:
Instead of one sharp focal point like in normal vision, light fails to make a single, clear image on the retina, the layer of light-sensitive cells lining the back of the eye. Without a focused image on the retina, the information sent to the brain through the optic nerve can result in blurred, distorted and/or skewed images for both near and far objects.
Astigmatism can affect sight in different ways depending on how the cornea is shaped: Vision could be distorted in a horizontal, vertical and/or diagonal direction. This condition can occur independently or can be accompanied by myopia or hyperopia. Typical symptoms of uncorrected astigmatism can be eye strain and headaches, which mostly occur after reading or other prolonged visual tasks such as working on the computer. A very common symptom is squinting.
Regular astigmatism is a vision condition, not a harmful disease; the eye is still healthy. An ophthalmologist or optometrist can recognize astigmatism in a routine check-up exam. If you are diagnosed with astigmatism, it is likely that you will need glasses, contact lenses or laser eye surgery.
Well over half the world’s population relies on glasses or contact lenses to see well. For many of these people, this may be the best option, and today, there are a variety of spectacle lens and contact lens options available for a wide range of vision needs.
However, many wearers have problems wearing glasses or contact lenses and find that their dependency on visual aids interferes with their daily lives.
Many people want to see – to see well without glasses or contact lenses. Laser eye surgery may provide a possible alternate solution to glasses and contact lenses. Consult with your eye doctor to determine the best option for your vision and daily life.