Refractive errors are one of the most common reasons for seeking consultation from Ophthalmologists and LASIK Surgeons. Astigmatism, nearsightedness (myopia), and farsightedness (hyperopia) all belong to the group of refractive errors. Among all these types, astigmatism is known to be the most misunderstood vision problem. Also, I’m sure you know someone who is also diagnosed with the same condition. Wouldn’t it be nice to understand better what they are going through? Does living with astigmatism cause so many burdens? Or are they able to manage the disorder properly?
What happens here is an error in light-focusing which then results to inability to direct light to the retina. Multiple focus points occur, either in front of or behind the retina, and clear vision is then impaired. The disorder is mainly due to the irregular shape of the cornea. Sometimes, there may be irregularities in the curvature of the lens inside the eye as well.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms include blurred or distorted vision at all distances. In addition, eye strain and headaches are also common complaints of patients. A lot of patients do report frequently needing to squint their eyes to see better too. Among all the symptoms though, blurred vision is reported to be the most frequent chief complaint of patients.
What Causes It?
As mentioned above, the manifestations of astigmatism are due to the irregular shape of the cornea or the lens inside the eye. The exact cause is currently unknown and there is not much information in medical literature. However, some eye care professionals argue that the condition is already present at birth. Others hold a different view, stating that astigmatism usually develops following an eye injury or eye surgery procedure such as cataract surgery.
Who Are At Risk?
It was surprising for me to discover that astigmatism actually occurs early in life for most patients. Hence, it is definitely important to schedule a consult with an ophthalmologist to undergo a comprehensive exam of the eyes. The prognosis of astigmatism is constantly changing over time. The condition, however, is permanent if untreated and it is possible that it may even progress. Thus, some patients may be required to change glasses or contact lenses once in a while.
We know a lot of treatment and management options today and all are proven effective too. Glasses and contact lenses will surely correct astigmatism but will not cure it. Today, refractive surgery procedures such as LASIK and PRK are known to be the most effective treatment. These procedures involve the use of laser machines and both very safe too. However, you will need to fulfill certain criteria in order to be a candidate for the either procedure.
Most patients with astigmatism tend to have better quality of life because they are able to manage the disorder well. It may not even cause much of a burden at all because of the available treatment modalities today. Patients with astigmatism are indeed very lucky to have so many options for them to live a normal life.