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Understanding and Correcting Astigmatism

A Common Cause of Blurry Vision

If you suffer from blurry vision that doesn't lend itself to correction through simple means such as reading glasses, you may need to have your eyes checked for astigmatism. Astigmatism adds an extra degree of complication to the issue of nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia). An irregular curvature in one or both corneas can cause either of these vision problems or even a mix of the two. Fortunately, however, you don't have to live with astigmatism. Our team at Lavenburg Medical Group can evaluate your condition and prescribe prescription glasses, contact lenses or LASIK surgery to correct it.

To understand what astigmatism is and how we measure it, it is helpful to understand the concept of meridians. Optometrists gauge the shape of a cornea by judging the smoothness of its shape over horizontal and vertical axes. If you have astigmatism in one or both eyes, the affected cornea does not describe a perfect half-sphere; instead, it is more oval shaped or has flat portions that spoil the curve. The biggest "peaks" and "valleys" along the horizontal or vertical axes of an abnormal cornea are called principal meridians. When light hits these meridians, the abnormal curvature adds nearsightedness or farsightedness to one or both eyes, above and beyond whatever degrees of these conditions you might already have.

Why do people get astigmatism? Like many vision problems, it can show up at any stage of life, and many children need correction for astigmatism. But the cornea also tends to become thinner as people get older, a condition called keratokonus, and this thinning process can create astigmatism. You may develop astigmatism if your cornea becomes scarred as a result of injury or illness. Whatever the reason for your condition, various forms of vision correction can help you keep seeing clearly throughout life.

Vision Correction for Astigmatism

Before we can correct your astigmatism, of course, we must diagnose and measure it. That's one reason regular eye exams are so important, especially as your risk of age-related keratokonus and other eye disorders rises. We will write your astigmatism adjustment into your prescription as a number called the "axis." This number describes the number of degrees, on a 180-degree scale, where the abnormality occurs. We can then prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses that will compensate for the abnormal curvature to restore clear eyesight.

If your astigmatism is not severe, you may want to consider LASIK eye surgery. This advanced form of vision correction uses a laser to reshape the cornea, providing it with a proper spherical curvature and correcting any combination of myopia or hyperopia you may have. If keratokonus has caused serious thinning of the cornea, however, you may not be a good candidate for this form of surgery, and we may recommend corrective eyewear for your astigmatism instead.

Contact Lavenburg Medical Group today for a consultation. We can help you overcome the blurry vision caused by astigmatism!