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What Is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is an extremely common eye condition that affects both children and adults. It occurs when there is an imperfection in some part of your cornea, the clear tissue that covers your iris. Light rays pass through the cornea as they travel to the retina, a thin layer of cells at the back of your eye. The retina turns light rays into impulses that are transmitted to your brain, which interprets them as images.

Normally, the cornea is completely round. If you have astigmatism, some parts of your cornea may be rounder than others, which can cause a distortion in the way light rays focus on your retina. Astigmatism is considered a refractive error because it affects the way your eyes refract, or bend, light. It often occurs in conjunction with other refractive errors, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness.

Symptoms of Astigmatism

Common symptoms of astigmatism include:

  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • Trouble seeing clearly when driving at night
  • Squinting
  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches

If you have a mild case of astigmatism, you may not notice any changes in your vision.

Diagnosing Astigmatism

Many of the symptoms of astigmatism, such as blurred vision and eyestrain, can also occur if you need glasses or you already have glasses or contacts, but your eyes have gotten worse. Luckily, astigmatism can be easily spotted during an eye examination.

During the examination, your visual acuity will be measured based on your ability to read letters or numbers on an eye chart. The focusing power of your eyes will also be determined, and an instrument called a keratometer may be used to measure the curvature of your cornea. These tests help eye care professionals determine if you have astigmatism.

Treating Astigmatism

Eyeglasses will help improve your vision if you have been diagnosed with astigmatism. Although you probably will not be able to notice any difference just by looking at your new glasses, a subtle change in your lenses will allow you to see better. Glasses improve vision in people with astigmatism because the lens power is increased in a small area of a lens to compensate for the imperfection in your cornea. Some people with astigmatism feel that contacts offer better vision than glasses, but either option will help improve your eyesight.

Reshaping the cornea can alleviate astigmatism temporarily or permanently. Special contact lenses that are worn overnight change the shape of the cornea, allowing you to see clearly during the day. However, if you stop wearing the lenses at night, your symptoms will return. Two types of laser surgery, LASIK and photoreactive keratectomy (PRK), permanently reshape the cornea but may have associated risks.

Helping you make the most of your vision is our priority. If it’s been awhile since we have seen you, call us today to schedule an appointment.

3 Toys That Can Injure Your Kids’ Eyes

As a parent, protecting your children from injury is one of your most important priorities. Unfortunately, even some toys that might seem harmless at first glance can damage your child’s eyes. These three types of toys are potentially dangerous:

  • Guns. Any gun that shoots something, whether it is water or a Nerf dart, can cause eye injuries. These guns are particularly harmful because they expel water or darts with considerable force. Depending on the amount of force, the guns can damage the cornea, pupil, retina, lens or even the optic nerve.
  • Long Toys. Guns are not just dangerous because they fire objects that become projectiles; they are also dangerous because of their length. Children usually play with wands, sabers, guns or fishing poles by waving them around. Unfortunately, nearby children can be injured if the end of the long object hits their eyes.
  • Flashlights and Laser Lights. A laser helps make that Star Wars saber look very authentic, but authenticity can come at a cost. When lasers are aimed at another person’s eyes, they can cause damage and even vision loss. Lasers are often found in toy guns, sabers, tops and pointers. A child does not have to look directly at the laser to receive an eye injury. Damage can also occur if the lasers are aimed at a mirror or other surface and reflected into a child’s eyes. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, lasers that emit more than 5mW of visible light power can cause irreversible eye injuries. Flashlights are not quite as dangerous, but very bright flashlights can temporarily blind a child, causing him or her to fall.

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