Astigmatism is a common eye condition that many people misunderstand at first glance. Luckily, there are experienced eye doctors on our beautiful island of Maui who can diagnose and treat this condition using customized solutions.
Astigmatism is a refractive condition, just as farsightedness and nearsightedness are. It is not related to poor general health or to an eye disease. A refractive error is a problem that occurs because the structure of the eye inhibits the proper focus of light. In people with astigmatism, light hits multiple points of focus on the retina versus just one, which is what is supposed to happen. As a result of the scattering of light, symptoms such as the following may occur:
- Difficulty focusing on objects at various distances. Not just near or far, but all distances.
- Trying to focus on objects creates strain on the eyes. This can lead to headaches and generalized eye pain.
- People with astigmatism may squint as they concentrate on focus. This can exacerbate headaches, and it also has cosmetic ramifications.
Types of Astigmatism
In order to treat astigmatism, your eye doctor conducts a thorough exam using appropriate diagnostic testing. While the focus of care (pun intended) is to counteract the awkward bending of light that is happening within the eye, the way that astigmatism is treated may depend on its type and severity. As well, personal preferences of the patient always come into play.
The three types of astigmatism that may develop include:
- Hyperopic astigmatism involves farsightedness on one or both meridians of the surface of the eye. If you were to look at the surface of the eye as a circle, and draw a line down the center, each side would be a meridian. The degree of farsightedness may differ from one side to the other.
- Myopic astigmatism involves nearsightedness on one or both meridians. The degree of nearsightedness may differ from one side to the other.
- Mixed astigmatism is characterized by nearsightedness on one meridian, and farsightedness on the other.
Ultimately, the way we tend to describe astigmatism is that the eye is shaped more like a football than a baseball, creating blurred vision.
What to do about Astigmatism
Regardless of all the factors involved in astigmatism, the most important is that the visual distortion be corrected. Many people correct astigmatism with eyeglasses. Depending on severity and type, it may also be possible to counteract the refractive error with toric contact lenses. Finally, refractive errors may be corrected with LASIK surgery.
Astigmatism does not have to keep you from enjoying the full extent of activity you prefer. Contact one of our conveniently located offices to schedule your consultation and eye exam.