5 Things You Need to Know About Having an Astigmatism
If you’ve ever been to the eye doctor, you may have been told you have astigmatism. Hearing for the first time that you have astigmatism can be quite a scary diagnosis if you don’t know what it is. This article will share a few common facts to help keep you informed about astigmatism as well as some things you may see in your vision if you have astigmatism.
- Astigmatism occurs when the cornea is irregularly-shaped
You may be surprised to learn that everyone has some degree of astigmatism because nothing in nature is perfectly round. Yes, you read that correctly – everyone has some astigmatism, yet it usually does not start to become visually significant until you have 0.75 to 1.00D or greater (D stands for diopter) Those who have significant astigmatism will have an eye that is more football-shaped, compared to those without astigmatism in which the eye has a more spherical shape. This football shape inhibits light from distributing evenly as it enters the cornea, causing blurred vision. This explains why you’ll experience out-of-focus eyesight not only up close but far away as well. If you’ve ever driven at night and noticed headlights and street lights that have long, stretched lines, this means that light entering your eye is focusing on several points on the retina rather than just one.
- Astigmatism hinders your depth perception
Depth perception is the ability to comprehend the distance between itself and the objects in your visual field. Astigmatism worsens depth perception of the eye since it blurs the edges and outlines of everything you see. You may notice you feel unbalanced and that it is difficult to distinguish how far away objects appear – this could affect the overall quality of your vision.
- Astigmatism can be a genetic trait
Much like the color of your eyes, being born with astigmatism can be a genetic trait. Many parents are to thank for passing along their ‘misshapen eye’ genes to you at birth. Unfortunately, the daily occurance of looking across your room and being unable to read the numbers on a digital clock is completely out of your control. On the bright side, as long as your eyes are healthy, astigmatism can be completely corrected with advanced LASIK plus Lens/IOL corrective technology.
- There are multiple types of astigmatism
Although you may have been told you have astigmatism, you probably were not told what type of astigmatism you have. The first type, myopic astigmatism, occurs when light is focused through two focal points in front of the retina. Hyperopic astigmatism is when two focal points are focused behind the retina, causing objects up close and at a distance to be blurry. Lastly, mixed astigmatism exists when light rays come to focal points both in front of and behind the retina.
- Rubbing Your Eyes Worsens Astigmatism
Probably the most important thing to note about astigmatism is that it can worsen due to eye rubbing. Admittedly, some unknowingly wake up in the morning, rub their eyes and think nothing of it, however this seemingly benign habit can prove quite harmful over time. By rubbing your eyes, you are damaging your corneas, increasing eye pressures, and altering the shape of the eye resulting in unwanted astigmatism. Eye rubbing can also lead to Keratoconus.
It is a miracle of science that modern lasers can effectively and completely correct a genetic defect.