What is Astigmatism?

Some patients may be more than a little concerned when I tell them they have astigmatism. A recent, informative article on Medical News Today answers the question as to what astigmatism actually is, and provides more detail than any patient would care to know about the condition. Here’s a quick tidbit that gets to the meat of the question:

Astigmatism is an eye condition with blurred vision as its main symptom. The front surface of the eye (cornea) of a person with astigmatism is not curved properly – the curve is irregular – usually one half is flatter than the other – sometimes one area is steeper than it should be.

When light rays enter the eye they do not focus correctly on the retina, resulting in a blurred image. Astigmatism may also be caused by an irregularly shaped lens, which is located behind the cornea.

I’ve found the easiest way to explain it to my patients is to tell them that, with astigmatism, the eye (or its front surface) is not perfectly round in shape — it may be squished in one direction or the other, preventing light from focusing at a single point in the back of the eye; instead, light focuses at mutiple points (or a line), causing blur. Glasses allow us to correct that by providing different prescription powers in the different meridians of the lens. I often explain to patients that astigmatism is so common that I’m a little surprised when I run into a patient that doesn’t have any. Read the article for more detail on the subject.

Article: What Is Astigmatism? What Causes Astigmatism?

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