Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

An astigmatism is an abnormal curve in the optical part of the eyethat produces a blurred image.

What is going on in the body?

An individual who has astigmatism has an abnormal curve in the optical part ofthe eye. The abnormal curve is usually in the cornea, but sometimes the lens isinvolved. When light enters the eye, it produces a smeared image rather than animage in sharp focus.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Astigmatism usually occurs naturally. It is caused by an abnormal curvature orshape of the cornea or lens. Injury to the cornea, or any other factor thatcould change the shape of the cornea or lens, can also cause astigmatism.

Symptoms & Signs

What are the signs and symptoms of the condition?

Symptoms of astigmatism include blurred vision, objects that appear fatter ortaller than they really are, and a smeared focus.

Diagnosis & Tests

How is the condition diagnosed?

Diagnosis is usually made by an eye-care professional during an eye exam. It can also be diagnosedusing instruments that measure the curve of the cornea. Other instruments canmake a map of the cornea.

Prevention & Expectations

What can be done to prevent the condition?

There is no way to prevent astigmatism. The eye develops this way in somepeople.

What are the long-term effects of the condition?

If astigmatism is not corrected early in life, it is possible todevelop lazy eye, also called refractive amblyopia.

Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the condition?

Glasses or contact lenses can be prescribed to control the lightcoming into the eye. The glasses or contact lenses direct the light to a pointfocus on the retina, so the image doesn’t appear smeared.

Recently, corneal surgeryprocedures have become recognized as a possible treatment for astigmatism. Cutsin the cornea or the use of lasers or other surgical techniques on the corneahave been shown to reduce or get rid of astigmatism.

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Contact lenses may cause injury tothe cornea. Surgery may cause bleeding, infection, or allergic reaction to anesthesia.

What happens after treatment for the condition?

Once astigmatism is corrected, the person will have normalvision.

How is the condition monitored?

Astigmatism is monitored during routine eye examinations. Any new or worseningsymptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.

Article type: xmedgeneral