What Is Astigmatism?


At Insight Eyecare we get this question many times per day. “What is Astigmatism?” Let’s begin answering scientifically what is astigmatism, then we can discuss the different analogies commonly used to describe it. Astigmatism is a type of were that makes objects go up and down in a different plane of focus and objects go left to right. A common test to know someone has astigmatism outside of the doctor’s office is to take off their glasses and look at a traditional clock that’s at least 20 feet away. If you see all hours of the clock equal clarity and darkness no stigmatism is present. Patients with astigmatism will see to were three clock hours darker than the rest. For example, the majority of people will either see 12 and 6 o’clock darker or three and 9 o’clock darker.

Astigmatism happens at the curvature of the front surface of the eye the majority of the time. Less commonly astigmatism can be found in the lens inside the eye would sit behind the colored iris. The eye is shaped more like a football versus round like a baseball. There are other analogies to help people understand astigmatism such as the vertical part of the eye is stronger than the horizontal part of the eye. Regardless of what analogy you like, the important thing is making sure that astigmatism is significant is corrected so that you can see well. This correction can come in many forms and is not as significant of an eye issue as many think. Astigmatism is corrected with glasses or soft contacts will rarely harm an eyeball.

Approximately 70 percent of prescriptions that are written have astigmatism correction. Astigmatism correction may be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. Of patients that have astigmatism 30% is considered minor enough to not even need correction. This means that three out of 10 patients who have astigmatism it does not affect their vision with or without glasses. Only 10% of patients have astigmatism that is significant enough to need specialized treatment. This means that roughly 60% of patients have astigmatism that can be corrected with standard glasses or soft contact lens. It’s important to understand that when properly corrected with the right glasses prescription and quality lenses astigmatism will not affect you.

In some cases, astigmatism may be significant and additional testing needs to be done to rule out any diseases such as keratoconus. Keratoconus is a disease of the front surface of the eye (the cornea) that causes progressive thinning, significant astigmatism, and permanent vision loss if not caught early enough; however, most of the time astigmatism is normal and just a part of your prescription. Luckily we have many new treatments available for patients with high astigmatism that can prevent their eyes from deteriorating over time. Patients with a high amount of astigmatism need to know to understand that their eye exams will take more time and their glasses and contacts will cost more but that is necessary for them to function. Some patients in this high category will only have clear vision through specialized contacts that we call medically necessary contact lenses. Medically necessary contact lenses are when a patient has eye disease such as keratoconus, corneal degeneration, or scarring that prevents them from seeing clear 2020 in any type of glasses when. These patients who need a medically necessary contact lens must take extra care in steps so they can function normally in life. This commonly includes routine eye health checks every 3 to 4 months and wearing contact lenses that are not soft in nature but can still be quite comfortable.

If you have any questions about astigmatism please let us help you find the answers were looking for.

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