Around your pupil and iris is your cornea, which is, under usual circumstances, spherical. When light hits your eye, the cornea's job is to help focus that light, directing it to your retina, which is in the rear part of your eye. But what happens when the cornea isn't perfectly round? The eye is not able to focus the light properly on one focal point on your retina, and sight gets blurred. Such a situation is known as astigmatism.
Many individuals have astigmatism and the condition mostly accompanies other vision problems that require vision correction. Astigmatism oftentimes appears during childhood and can cause eye fatigue, painful headaches and squinting when left untreated. With kids, it may lead to difficulty in the classroom, often when it comes to highly visual skills such as reading or writing. Anyone who works with fine details or at a computer for long periods may experience more difficulty with astigmatism.
Astigmatism can be preliminarily diagnosed by a routine eye test with an optometrist and afterwards fully diagnosed with either an automated refraction or a retinoscopy test, which calculates the degree of astigmatism. The condition is commonly fixed with contact lenses or glasses, or refractive surgery, which alters the way that light hits the eye, letting the retina receive the light correctly.
Toric lenses are commonly prescribed for astigmatism because they allow the light to bend more in one direction than another. Standard contact lenses generally move when you blink. But with astigmatism, the slightest eye movement can totally blur your sight. After you blink, toric lenses return to the same place on your eye to avoid this problem. Toric lenses are available as soft or hard varieties, to be chosen depending on what is more comfortable for you.
Astigmatism may also be rectified with laser surgery, or by orthokeratology (Ortho-K), a non-surgical procedure involving wearing special hard contact lenses to slowly change the shape of the cornea. It's advisable to explore your options with your eye care professional in order to decide what the best option is for your needs.
For help demonstrating the effects of astigmatism to young, small children, have them look at a circular teaspoon and an oval teaspoon. In the circular one, their reflection will appear regular. In the oval one, their face will be stretched. This is what astigmatism means for your vision; those affected wind up viewing the world stretched out a little.
Astigmatism changes gradually, so be sure that you are periodically visiting your eye doctor for a proper exam. Also, make sure you have your children's eyes checked before they begin school. A considerable amount of your child's education (and playing) is largely visual. You can allow your child make the best of his or her schooling with a thorough eye exam, which will diagnose any visual abnormalities before they begin to impact schooling, sports, or other activities. It's important to know that astigmatism is very treatable, and that the sooner to you seek to treat it, the better off your child will be.