Astigmatism is a common eye condition characterized by blurry or distorted vision. While it can remain stable in some people, it may worsen over time. In this blog post, Eyes on Norbeck discusses what causes astigmatism and how it can be treated.
Causes of Astigmatism
Astigmatism is a type of refractive error in the eyes similar to myopia and hyperopia, or nearsightedness and farsightedness, respectively. It occurs when the shape of the cornea or lens is distorted from its normal curvature, causing light to focus unevenly on the retina resulting in blurred vision at all distances. Normal aging and certain diseases such as keratoconus or cone-shaped distortion are among the most common causes of astigmatism.
Can Astigmatism Worsen Over Time?
According to the American Optometric Association, most people have astigmatism to some degree, and can increase or decrease over time. In some patients, astigmatic errors were caused by a genetic predisposition — that is, families who have a history of glaucoma are more likely to have descendants with the same risks.
An unhealthy lifestyle is also a risk factor. Activities that overwork the eyes like extended reading or use of computers can lead to the development of this condition over time. Such activities weaken the ciliary muscles around the eyes and cause them to be unable to hold the natural curvature needed for clear vision.
Aging brings about inevitable changes to the eyes. The crystalline lens fibers that help the eyes focus gradually thin out, which reduces overall visual acuity in older people. This is why the elderly typically have difficulty reading fine print unaided. Other causes include age-related changes, trauma, infection, incorrect eyeglass prescription strength etc.
Diagnosis and Treatment Options
If you exhibit symptoms of astigmatism such as blurry vision, headaches and poor night vision, we recommend visiting an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam. During the test, your doctor will measure your eyeball and identify signs that indicate astigmatism. The results of the eye test will help your doctor prepare a treatment plan, which may include one or more of the following:
- Eye exercises. There are a few exercises that can help treat symptoms of astigmatism. The “20-20-20 rule” — for every 20 minutes of eye activity, take a break by staring at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds — can help reduce strain on the eyes.
- Corrective lenses. As with other kinds of refractive errors, one can wear eyeglasses to correct astigmatism. Your eye doctor may also prescribe scleral contact lenses. Orthokeratology, a treatment that involves the use of specially-designed contact lenses, can also be used to treat certain cases.
- Surgical treatment. LASIK is a type of eye surgery that involves reshaping the inner cornea, and can also be used to treat astigmatism.
If you think you may have astigmatism or believe it is worsening, contact Eyes on Norbeck today. Call us at (301) 238-7199 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. We serve Potomac, MD and the surrounding communities.