Astigmatism is a common refractive error of the eye that affects how light is focused. It occurs when the cornea (the clear front surface of the eye) or the lens has an irregular shape rather than being perfectly spherical. As a result, the light entering the eye does not focus properly on the retina, causing blurry or distorted vision.
In a normal eye, the cornea and lens have a smooth, evenly curved surface, which allows light rays to converge into a single point on the retina. However, in astigmatism, the cornea or lens may have different curves in different meridians, similar to the shape of a football instead of a basketball. This causes light to focus at multiple points rather than a single point, leading to blurred vision at all distances.
Astigmatism can occur alongside other refractive errors such as nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia). Common symptoms of astigmatism include blurred or distorted vision, eyestrain, headaches, and difficulty seeing fine details. It can affect both distance and near vision.
Astigmatism is typically diagnosed during an eye examination by an optometrist. The diagnosis involves measuring the curvature of the cornea and the extent of the refractive error. Eyeglasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery (such as LASIK or PRK) are commonly used to correct astigmatism by compensating for the irregular shape of the cornea or lens and redirecting light to focus properly on the retina.
It’s important to have regular eye exams to detect and correct astigmatism or any other vision problems for optimal visual acuity and overall eye health