Common Eye Problems: Astigmatism

Astigmatism is a very common eye problem. There are more than 3 million cases of astigmatism are reported every year. Although astigmatism is common, people often wonder what having an eye or eyes with astigmatism actually means. We will give a general overview that will help you better understand the facts about astigmatism.

What Is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism has to do with an imperfection in the curvature of the eye. Light rays enter the eye through the curved cornea and lens. When these eye surfaces are curved correctly, they refract light rays and focus them on the retina. The retina can then convert those light patterns into the electrical signals that our optic nerves send to our brain. The brain’s interpretation of these electrical signals is how we see. The improper transmission of light patterns at the beginning of the seeing process, due to an unusually curved lens or cornea, is astigmatism.

Types of Astigmatism

There are five types of astigmatism. These astigmatism types are determined by the abnormalities in the way the cornea focuses the light on the retina. In a normal eye, the meridians focus the light directly and evenly, both vertically and horizontally, onto the retina. With the different types of astigmatism, the one of both of the two principal meridians focus light indirectly or unequally onto the retina.

  • Simple myopic astigmatism: This is a combination of astigmatism and myopia, or nearsightedness, where one of the principal meridians is focused in front of the retina and the other meridian is focused on the retina. This usually results in the person seeing the vertical image out of focus.
  • Simple hyperopic astigmatism: This is a combination of astigmatism and hyperopia, or farsightedness, where one of the principal meridians is focused in behind the retina and the other meridian is focused on the retina. This usually results in a person seeing the horizontal image out of focus.
  • Compound myopic astigmatism: This is a combination of astigmatism and myopia, or nearsightedness, where both of the principal meridians are focused in front of the retina.
  • Compound hyperopic astigmatism: This is a combination of astigmatism and hyperopia, or farsightedness, where both of the principal meridians are focused behind the retina.
  • Mixed astigmatism: This is when one of the principal meridians is focused in front of the retina and the other meridian is focused behind the retina.

Common Astigmatism Symptoms

Astigmatism is very common. Very often, astigmatism goes undetected as it is easily confused for eye fatigue or eye strain. The effects of astigmatism increase over time as you age. Here are common astigmatism symptoms:

  • Blurred vertical, horizontal, diagonal vision at all distances. Objects can also look too tall, short, wide, or narrow.
  • Difficulty driving at night
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Squinting for excessive amounts of time that can result in headaches or eye fatigue
  • Eye fatigue or eye strain when trying to read or focus on a computer screen for long periods of time

People with very mild astigmatism may not notice any symptoms. If you experience any of these symptoms, it may be astigmatism or it could also mean you have other eye problems.

Have astigmatism symptoms? Set up an eye exam today!

If you are experiencing any or all of the symptoms listed above, you may want to make an eye exam appointment with your eye doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Your eye doctor or optometrist will conduct a comprehensive eye exam. With the information from these tests, your eye doctor will be able to determine if you have astigmatism. If you do have astigmatism, your optometrist can discuss the best treatment options for you.

Over time, your eyes and vision change.  Visiting your eye doctor regularly can help keep your vision as accurate as possible. Having an affordable vision insurance plan can help you save on your eye exam and corrective vision options. If you haven’t received a quote for an individual or family vision insurance plan recently, we recommend that you get a vision plan quote today.