Our eyes are one of the most important tools we have to help us navigate the world. However, few of us can say we have perfect 20/20 vision. For the majority of us, glasses or contacts are part of our daily routine. But for people who suffer from astigmatism, eyesight correction can be a bit tricker. Keep reading for everything you need to know about living with astigmatism.
What is Astigmatism?
When you have good eyesight, the light will pass through an evenly curved cornea and refract correctly. This allows for the image to register into the retina, resulting in clear vision. When you have a surface problem on the cornea, your retinal focusing is thrown off and will result in blurred vision. Surface problems can include flattening or bulging of the cornea. These abnormalities are what causes astigmatism. A normal eye is shaped like a sphere, however when you have astigmatism, the eye is shaped like a football. Essentially, when the cornea is misshapen, the focus point is forced to shift causing the blurred vision.
What Causes Astigmatism?
The main factor that has been found to cause astigmatism is aging. While there are few other natural causes outside of aging, genetic predisposition is one of them. Therefore, if the older generations in your family have a large prevalence of astigmatism, then you are likely at risk of developing it as you age. There are also some cases where an injury to the eye that causes scarring on the cornea can also cause an irregular astigmatism.
Do I have Astigmatism?
The best way to tell if you have astigmatism is by assessing your vision. The severity will vary but typically a person with astigmatism will have blurred vision which causes them to have difficulty discerning details regardless of the distance from the subject. It will also progress with age, so decline over time is also a telltale sign. It is important to note that most people who suffer from astigmatism have a milder form that can be harder to self-diagnose. However, those with the more severe cases will notice eye fatigue, squinting and eye strain that can lead to migraines.
Astigmatism can be easily diagnosed by your doctor during a routine eye examination. They can assess you for astigmatism by monitoring your response to refractive lenses or they may use a keratometer and topographer to measure the thickness and curvature of your cornea.
How to Live with Astigmatism
If you do have a more severe astigmatism, you may be wondering what you can do to better your situation. While there is no way to fully reverse a case of astigmatism, there are some things you can do to improve your day-to-day. Here are four things you can do to better live with astigmatism.
1. Minimize Night Driving: The first and perhaps easiest thing you can do to better live with your astigmatism is to reduce nighttime driving if possible. Nighttime vision is particularly challenging when living with astigmatism. Traffic lights, headlights and other illuminated signs can make it very difficult to focus properly when driving. Many sufferers will try to tough it out by squinting or straining their eyes or will even attempt to drive with one eye closed. This can put you and others on the road in danger.
While cutting back on night driving isn’t going to be an option for everyone, if you are able to reduce night driving, you absolutely should. Let your friends and family know that you should never be the preferred driver when it comes to night drives and takes public transportation when you can. If you are not able to reduce the time you spend behind the wheel at night, the next two solutions will be better suited for you.
2. Glasses for Astigmatism: Having a specific pair of glasses for astigmatism is a must for anyone who suffers. This is the least invasive way to correct astigmatism. The right pair of corrective lenses will help change the way your eyes collect light which helps to reduce any blurriness, glares or halos that are typical with this condition. People with astigmatism can also use contact lenses to correct their vision.
3. Laser Eye Surgery: If you are looking for a more permanent option, you can inquire with your eye doctor about laser eye surgery. Not everyone will be a candidate for this, but some sufferers of astigmatism have seen success with laser surgery. Your doctor will look at the stability of your eyesight as well as your age, other health issues and the moisture levels in your eyes to determine which procedure will work best for you.
Coping with Astigmatism
While living with an eye condition can be frustrating, there are some great solutions that can make your day to day easier. LASIK surgery can make a world of difference for those who are looking to correct their vision for good and the right pair of glasses will help everyone in between. No matter what the case may be, you don’t have to suffer! Try one of these solutions today.