Astigmatism is a common visual condition caused by an irregularly shaped cornea. The surface of the cornea is oblong in shape, like a football, instead of perfectly round, like a basketball. Light rays passing through an oblong cornea bend unequally, causing multiple focusing points. Consequently, vision is blurred at most distances. Astigmatism is usually hereditary, although factors such as low light levels and too much work done close up can contribute to the condition.
Not many people know what astigmatism is, but the good news is there are a variety of toric lenses that correct this common condition. Watch Mark Malkoff hit New York City's Grand Central Station to see who can define astigmatism.
How do I know if I have astigmatism?
Symptoms include squinting, occasional headaches, and eyestrain. In most cases, astigmatism is accompanied by nearsightedness or farsightedness. Forty-five percent of people who require vision correction have some degree of astigmatism. Astigmatism is usually diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam.
Will my vision continue to get worse?
Over time this condition may increase slowly but generally, over a lifetime, it remains relatively stable.
How is astigmatism treated?
Astigmatism can be corrected by wearing glasses or toric contact lenses. The irregular shape of an astigmatic eye cornea and/or lens produces two focusing points in front of or behind the retina, which can cause blurred vision.
Toric contact lenses correct the refractive errors, creating a single focal point in the retina where vision is sharpest.
For years, many people with astigmatism believed they could never wear soft contact lenses. And, many who were fitted for toric contact lenses to correct astigmatism often found the performance unsatisfactory. Today, toric lenses have been greatly improved by advances in technology. With the help of computer-aided manufacturing techniques, CooperVision and other contact lens manufacturers can create toric contact lenses that will best fit many types of astigmatism.
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