Astigmatism is such a common condition that some doctors believe most the population suffer from it to some degree.
There are several types of astigmatism, all caused by imperfections in the curvature of the cornea or the shape of the eye’s lens. The cornea is the clear, round dome like membrane that sits on the surface of the eye and covers the iris and pupil. Its job is to act as a protective layer and prevent anything from disrupting the layers underneath. As the first layer of which light passes through, it also has a big influence on how light rays are directed into the eye. When the cornea is an irregular shape, it is known as corneal astigmatism.
The lens of the eye is much like that of a camera; it adjusts the light, focusing it according to its distance travelled to the eye, and transmitting it to the retina to form the images we see. When the shape of the lens is distorted, it is known as lenticular astigmatism.
As a result of either of these types of astigmatism, light fails to focus at a single point on the retina, causing both distant and close objects to appear blurry, and symptoms such as constant headaches and fatigue.
Finally, an effective treatment for astigmatism
To function properly, the cornea and lens need to be evenly curved and smooth enough to direct light rays sharply onto the retina. As astigmatism is a slightly more complex condition than the likes of short and long sightedness, for a long time it has been believed that the best way to achieve this is with glasses or contact lenses, ruling refractive surgery out as an alternative option. However, given an expert surgeon with access to the latest technology, virtually all astigmatism symptoms are now treatable with Laser Eye Surgery.
The three main types of Laser Eye Surgery — LASEK/PRK, LASIK, and ReLEx SMILE — can all be used to correct astigmatism. To conduct the procedure a laser eye surgeon uses a precision laser to remove unwanted tissue and reshape the inner layer of the cornea, changing its curvature and therefore the eye’s natural ability to focus.
If you suspect you may have astigmatism, a visit to your ophthalmologist for a complete eye exam is your best course of action. Alternatively, if you knowingly suffer from astigmatism and are tired of the limitations of glasses and contact lenses, finding out if you are suitable for Laser Eye Surgery is sure to be worth your while.