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Astigmatism 101

June 15, 2021

You most likely have heard the term astigmatism before. You may have friends or family members with astigmatism. This common condition affects about a quarter of adults between the ages of 50 and 59, and half of those over 60. People can develop astigmatism at any age, even during childhood. Read on for more information from a Los Angeles, CA eye doctor.


Basics

Astigmatism is a refractive error, which means that it is associated with how light bends within your eye, a process called refraction. Astigmatism happens when the eye’s lens or cornea is shaped irregularly. It may be elongated from front to back, which is called with-the-rule astigmatism, or from top to bottom, which would be against-the-rule astigmatism. EIther way, that elongated eye shape causes the light to be focused in front of or behind the retina, instead of directly on it. 


Causes

There is no one known cause of astigmatism. As with many medical conditions, genetics seems to be a factor. Sometimes people develop the condition after injuries or surgeries. Eye strain may also play a role. It’s worth mentioning that people who have astigmatism typically also have other refractive errors, such as myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness).


Symptoms

Blurry vision is one of the most common symptoms of astigmatism. Things may also just look distorted. You may notice some discomfort in your eyes, particularly when you are reading or working on a computer. Astigmatism can also cause headaches, double vision, and halos around lights, particularly at night. This can make driving after dark difficult, especially if it’s raining. Other signs include squinting, itching, and burning. 


Treatment

Now for the good news: astigmatism can be treated. Your eye doctor will likely recommend wearing prescription glasses. You can also use contacts, though you would need special ones. There are a few different types to choose from. Toric lenses are soft contacts that are bigger and thicker than regular contacts. Gas permeable or hybrid contacts are also possible options. Each type of contact has their own pros and cons, so you’ll want to talk to your optometrist to figure out what kind will work best for you. LASIK can also help, as the process reshapes the eye. Ask your optician for specific advice.


Do you need a new prescription? Have you noticed vision problems recently? Contact us here at your local Los Angeles, CA eye care center today! 

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