For those of us who are fortunate to see, our eyes play a major role in our lives. When an eye condition like astigmatism comes along and threatens one of our most precious human assets, panic may be our first response, especially if you are unaware or uninformed of the condition. But the truth is, astigmatism is very common, and very treatable.
Follow along to learn more about astigmatism, what it is, its causes, how to determine if you have astigmatism, treatment options such as, astigmatism glasses, and how Felix Gray can help fulfil your Rx.
What is astigmatism and what causes it?
Astigmatism is a type of refractive error. It has been a known vision condition for over 200 years, and affects 1 in 3 people. More specifically, astigmatism is an imperfection in the curvature of the eye’s cornea or lens, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
A normal cornea and lens are equally curved and smooth in all directions, allowing light to be bent as it enters the eye so that it can be focused precisely on the retina in the back of the eye. On the other hand, when the cornea and lens are not evenly curved or smooth, the eye has difficulty focusing light rays to a single point.
Astigmatism is often present at birth and may occur with other types of refractive errors like nearsightedness and farsightedness. A concrete cause of astigmatism is unknown, but genetics may play a role. The major thing to remember is that astigmatism is not a disease, but a condition, which can be treated.
How to tell if you have astigmatism
To some degree, most people have astigmatism, says The American Optometric Association. It can present at birth, develop later in life, or be the result of an injury. It also has the potential to change over a lifespan.
Due to the variations in the eye’s cornea and lens curvature, signs and symptoms of astigmatism vary per individual sufferer. General symptoms include:
- Fuzzy, double, or blurred vision
- Squinting and/or eye strain
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Eye irritation
- Eye fatigue
- Difficulty seeing fine details, both close-up and at a distance
It’s common to seek answers for how to prevent astigmatism from getting worse and how to correct astigmatism. The first step for anyone experiencing signs and symptoms is to consult an ophthalmologist or optometrist to determine whether astigmatism is present, and if so, the severity of the condition. From there, contact lenses, glasses for astigmatism, or other treatment options may be discussed.
How to treat astigmatism
Astigmatism is diagnosed by a complete eye exam, which may involve the use of tests and devices:
- Keratometry/Topography: used to measure the curvature of the cornea (keratometry), a corneal topography provides more information about the cornea’s shape
- Phoropter: helps determine the lenses that will provide the clearest vision
- Visual Acuity: visual reading test (reading letters from a distance)
- Autorefractor: measures how light changes as it bounces off the back of the eye, leading to the determination of the corrective lenses you’ll need
Astigmatism treatments include:
- Contact lenses
- Refractive surgeries
- Astigmatism glasses
If you’ve discussed treatment with your optometrist and are ready to pick out your astigmatism glasses, we at Felix Gray can help. We have a great selection of prescription glasses for a variety of face shapes.
We can fill single-vision prescriptions with a spherical value (SPH) between -6.00 and +4.00, up to a -/+2.00 cylinder (CYL). For those with astigmatism, both the cylinder and axis values are needed.
Will it get better or worse over time?
With more than 150 million Americans wearing corrective eyewear due to refractive errors, inquiring minds want to know: does astigmatism get worse? And more importantly, can astigmatism get better?
Although there are various effective treatments available to restore normal vision such as contact lenses, surgeries, and astigmatism glasses, currently there is no way to prevent astigmatism from developing. Astigmatism changes throughout your life, and does have the potential to worsen with age. However, it all depends on the individual and the severity of the diagnosis.
Keeping track of any significant changes in your vision and staying alert to problems you may be having with your contact lenses or glasses, as well as communicating those changes in routine visits to your eye doctor, are paramount in keeping your eyes healthy.
What will happen if astigmatism is left untreated?
With any condition or disorder, if left untreated or undiagnosed, things are bound to worsen. Astigmatism is no different. Untreated astigmatism can cause extensive vision problems, which may lead to a decline in the success of every day activities like driving or reading. It can also lead to the worsening of common symptoms—headaches, eye irritation and strain, squinting, etc.
Other vision conditions may occur as a result of untreated or undiagnosed astigmatism:
- Amblyopia: also known as “lazy” or “wandering” eye. It is the misalignment of the eyes.
- Keratoconus: when the thinning of the cornea occurs, causing it to bulge outwardly into a cone shape.
Circling back around to the question, can astigmatism get worse? The answer is YES. Our best advice: if you have vision problems, consult an eye doctor and follow the treatments they recommend.
Being diagnosed with astigmatism may be a scary thing, but there is no reason to be alarmed—it’s highly treatable. If you’ve been diagnosed and are searching for stylish eyewear, look no further than Felix Gray’s selections. We’re well equipped to help you treat your vision with corrective lenses for all levels of astigmatism severity. Check out our prescription lenses to learn more about the best fit for you.