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Astigmatism is a very common vision problem. The WHO states that there are at least 2.2 billion people suffering from vision problems. Astigmatism is usually present from birth and gets worse with time. It can also be combined with other visual problems such as nearsightedness and farsightedness.

In this article we will discuss what exactly astigmatism is, how it is diagnosed and the treatments used to improve vision.

What is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a health problem that causes vision to become blurred and distorted. This happens because the cornea or lens is abnormally shaped, altering visual perception and causing blurred vision, whether the target is near or far away.

This problem is usually not serious enough to need treatment, but in some cases it requires the use of corrective lenses or surgery, depending on the severity. Any visual problem tends to become bothersome over time, as it worsens or mixes with other complications. For this reason, most people seek help from an ophthalmologist who can recommend the appropriate lens, allowing them to reduce the discomfort.

Symptoms of astigmatism

Symptoms may vary depending on the severity of the problem. In some cases, symptoms are not noticed or go unnoticed. Among the most prominent symptoms of astigmatism are the following.

Headache. Those who suffer from visual problems, such as astigmatism, strain their vision to avoid blurring. This leads to frequent headaches, which can only be eliminated by improving or correcting the visual problem.

Tired or blurred vision. Eye fatigue is one of the most notorious symptoms. It is a slight but constant burning, which is usually accompanied by red eyes due to the continuous effort. When the person sleeps he/she gets relief, but then this symptom reappears.

Difficulty seeing in the dark. For those who suffer from astigmatism, the perception of things becomes blurred. This worsens when there is not enough light, for example, at night.

Focusing problems. The person must close and open the eyes several times to try to focus. The eye by nature tries to see well, so the person with astigmatism closes the eye a little to reduce the visual field and focus better.

Sometimes, the person is not aware of how bad his or her vision may be. It happens very frequently in children, because at a young age they still do not identify what would represent correct vision and what would not. In the case of adults, it is very important to have a visual checkup every so often, and to take the child to an optometrist if he or she notices constant problems in identifying things, whether at a distance, up close or in the dark.

Causes and diagnosis of astigmatism

The cause of astigmatism is the malformation of the cornea or the crystalline lens, which causes the light that enters the eye to be misdirected, causing distortion. When in either of these two elements the curvature is more pronounced in one direction than the other, the light rays are divided causing two images that are combined trying to achieve a defined image. For this reason, the image that is observed is not completely clear.

Astigmatism can be corneal or lenticular, depending on the area of the eye affected. Corneal astigmatism is caused by the uneven curvature of the cornea. And the lenticular occurs when the same problem is generated in the crystalline lens.

Doctors cannot explain why this deformation occurs in the eye by itself, nor can they give suggestions to prevent it from happening. Astigmatism is not caused or aggravated by reading in poor light, or spending a lot of time near a television, computer or cell phone. It is usually a problem from birth, although in some cases, it presents itself in the first years of a child’s life.

Treatment for astigmatism

An ophthalmologist, optometrist or eye doctor can, through simple tests, determine if a person suffers from astigmatism and to what degree. Treatment for this visual defect is usually straightforward. Let’s look at two methods.

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In most patients, permanent corrective glasses are sufficient to improve vision. In the case of astigmatism, the blurred vision can go in several directions. For this reason, in the case of corrective lenses or glasses, the lens must have a different thickness depending on the direction in which light is refracted. This can be vertical, horizontal or diagonal.

Surgery may be an option to eliminate astigmatism permanently. This can be performed with laser to correct 4 to 5 diopters. For this, a previous study must be done, which will allow confirming if the cornea is thick enough to allow the operation.

Another option is the implantation of an intraocular lens. In the case of a patient under 45 years of age, up to 6 diopters of astigmatism can be corrected. While older patients, with cataract or presbyopia, the operation is somewhat different. The medical specialist can explain the procedures and requirements for each operation, taking into consideration the specific characteristics of each patient.

One of the advantages of refractive eye surgery is that more than one visual problem can be corrected at the same time. That is, if the pre-operative eye exam determines that the patient has a combination of astigmatism and nearsightedness or farsightedness, both problems can be corrected in the same operation.


For special inquiries:        [email protected]