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What is Astigmatism?

What is Astigmatism?

More stock images - 026If your doctor tells you that you have “astigmatism” it means that the shape of cornea of the eye has changed. Normally the cornea is round. It opens and closes to let in more, or less light depending on the circumstances. When the light enters the normal eye, it deflects to the back of the eye where the rods are located, and you see what you are looking at.

In a patient with astigmatism the shape of the cornea is different. Instead of being round the cornea is oval in shape. The muscles of the eyes in the patient with astigmatism are “tighter” than normal, causing the oval shape of the cornea. The light enters through the cornea at an odd angle, resulting in blurred vision.

In the past, astigmatism treatments were limited, basically putting the patient in glasses. Today there are several options. In addition to glasses, special astigmatism contact lenses can be used, or if you prefer a more permanent option, surgery can be done to correct the astigmatism.

The surgery is a minor procedure where the tightened muscles are snipped, releasing the tension on the cornea. This procedure will improve the vision but will not totally correct it. The blurred vision can be improved significantly by combining laser surgery or corneal replacement surgery along with muscle relaxation surgery. The combined surgeries have been found to greatly improve the vision but glasses may still be needed for some patients.

If you know you have astigmatism and want to try something other than just wearing glasses or contacts for the rest of your life, discuss possible surgery with your doctor.