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Understanding an Astigmatism

When we think of how absolutely beautiful eyes can be, how they’re often called “the window to the soul,” it’s hard to imagine imperfections. But, that’s exactly what astigmatism is — an imperfection in the shape of the eyeballs. As the Mayo Clinic notes about your cornea, the surface of your eye, “Instead of having one curve like a round ball, the surface is egg-shaped.”

Of course, we can’t see this imperfection with the naked eye, but a football-shaped curve on the surface of your eyeball means light bends unevenly, causing blurry vision at any distance. Here at ReVision Optix in Simpsonville and Greenville, South Carolina, Dr. Sean Stevens and Dr. Tiffany Brawner, expertly treat people of all ages with astigmatism every day. The good news is that even if you have astigmatism, you can often see quite clearly with the right prescription glasses or even special contact lenses

Common causes of astigmatism

Astigmatism runs in families, so you may have been born with eyes that are less than perfectly round. You might also develop astigmatism in one or both eyes after an eye disease, an eye injury, or surgery. In some cases, babies born with astigmatism grow out of it between the ages of 5 to 9 years. 

A relatively rare condition, keratoconus, could also lead to astigmatism. Keratoconus causes your cornea to become thinner and cone-shaped over time, resulting in a significant amount of astigmatism that may not be fully correctable with contacts or glasses. 

Astigmatism often occurs with other refractive errors

Astigmatism is a refractive error, meaning that the condition causes light rays to bend unevenly and therefore, objects appear out of focus. Your cornea can have mismatched curves that produce overlapping images of an object as it focuses on the retina in the back of your eye. 

You might also have astigmatism when your cornea or lens is unevenly curved in one direction. If the curvature of your eyeball is very steep on one side and less so on the other, your eye won’t be able to interpret light correctly, so your vision appears blurry, either up close or far away. 

Other common refractive errors that often accompany astigmatism, include nearsightedness (myopia) and farsightedness (hyperopia). If you have an irregularly shaped cornea, and you have myopia or hyperopia, you may not be able to focus very well at any distance. 

Restoring clear vision when you have astigmatism

For most people, astigmatism is easily corrected with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. If you have blurred or distorted vision, eyestrain, and headaches, when you come in for a comprehensive eye exam, we perform a thorough investigation as to why you have these symptoms. If it is in fact astigmatism, either by itself or with other refractive errors, we then prescribe corrective lenses. 

Glasses

Special cylindrical lenses in your glasses can compensate for the level of astigmatism in your eyes. Depending on your overall vision needs, we may recommend single-vision lenses, bifocals, or progressives, so you can see clearly at every distance. 

Contacts

Just because you have astigmatism doesn’t mean you can’t wear contact lenses. Toric lenses are specially designed to correct many different types of astigmatism. Toric contacts come in soft and rigid gas permeable options, and we’ll help you select the ones that best correct your vision and are most comfortable to wear. 

Laser vision correction

Laser eye surgeries, such as LASIK and PRK, reshape your cornea so you can see clearly, often without contacts or glasses. These refractive procedures permanently revise the shape of your cornea so your eyes can bend light more perfectly. 

If you or a family member experiences blurry vision, it’s our goal to identify the underlying cause of your symptoms and offer effective solutions that fit with your lifestyle. Give us a call at either of our South Carolina locations, or request an appointment online to take the first step toward better vision.

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