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Astigmatism is a problem with how the eye focuses light; a common refractive issue similar to nearsightedness or farsightedness. It can occur in nearly everyone to some degree and causes blurry vision at all distances and is not isolated to near or far.

Common Causes of Astigmatism

Everyone’s eye is shaped like a sphere. Normally, when light enters the retina it bends evenly to bring objects into focus. When the eye is misshapen, it cannot focus properly causing vision to blur at all points of focus.
It can also be caused by an irregular shaped cornea, refracting light in one direction or the other. Corneas are normally round in shape. When an astigmatism is present, they can appear more oval and allow only part of a visible object to be in focus at one time. This causes blurry or wavy vision.
There are 3 common kinds of Astigmatism:

  1. Myopic Astigmatism – One or both sides of the cornea are nearsighted
  2. Hyperopic Astigmatism – One or both sides of the cornea are farsighted
  3. Mixed Astigmatism – One side is nearsighted and the other farsighted

Signs and Symptoms of Astigmatism

Astigmatisms can be difficult to determine as there are several classifications and degrees of severity. Some of the most common signs and symptoms are:

  • Some level of blurry vision at all distances
  • Headaches, particularly after reading
  • Eye strain and squinting

Treatment for Astigmatism

Treatment can vary depending on the type of astigmatism you have, and if it is classified as either regular, or irregular. In order to determine the type of Astigmatism, a painless test called retinoscopy is administered. An optometrist shines a light into your retina while performing lense changes between the light and your eye. This test is now done with an automated system which produces faster and more accurate results.
Once your type and level is determined, the astigmatism can be corrected with prescription eye glasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery such as LASIK.

Written by Dr. Scott Mundle

A University of Waterloo graduate (class of 1983), Dr. Mundle became a partner with Henderson Vision Centre just one year later. Dr. Mundle has been an integral part of Henderson Vision Centre ever since.
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