The cornea around your pupil and iris is, under perfect conditions, spherical. When light enters your eye from all angles, part of the job of your cornea is to help project that light, aiming it toward the retina, right in the back of your eye. What happens when the cornea isn't exactly round? The eye can't focus the light properly on one focus on your retina's surface, and sight becomes blurred. This condition is called astigmatism.
Many individuals have astigmatism and the condition mostly comes with other vision issues like nearsightedness or farsightedness. Astigmatism often occurs during childhood and can cause eye fatigue, painful headaches and the tendency to squint when left untreated. In children, it can lead to challenges in school, often with reading or other visual tasks like drawing and writing. People working with particularly small or detailed objects or at a computer monitor for excessive periods of time might find that it can be problematic.
Astigmatism is preliminarily diagnosed by an eye test with an eye care professional and afterwards fully diagnosed with either an automated refraction or a retinoscopy test, which checks the degree of astigmatism. The condition is easily fixed with contact lenses or glasses, for those who prefer a non-invasive procedure, or refractive surgery, which changes the flow of light onto the retina to readjust the focal point.
Toric lenses are commonly prescribed for astigmatism because they permit the light to curve more in one direction than another. Standard contact lenses move when you blink. With astigmatism, the most subtle movement can totally blur your vision. Toric lenses return to the exact same position right after you blink. You can find toric lenses as soft or hard varieties, to be chosen depending on what is more comfortable for you.
Astigmatism may also be fixed with laser surgery, or by orthokeratology (Ortho-K), a non-surgical alternative that involves the use of special hard contacts to slowly reshape the cornea. You should discuss options with your eye care professional in order to determine what your best choice is for your needs.
A person's astigmatism can get better or worse gradually, so be sure that you're frequently making appointments to see your eye doctor for a proper test. Also, be sure your 'back-to-school' list includes taking your kids to an eye care professional. Most of your child's education (and playing) is largely a function of their vision. You'll help your child get the most of his or her year with a full eye exam, which will pick up any visual irregularities before they impact academics, athletics, or other activities.