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What is astigmatism and what causes it?

Astigmatism is one of the most frequent problems with vision, which is characterized by blurred vision. This eye condition can be inherited and present at birth, but it can also develop later in life, with the main cause being irregular shape of cornea. Cornea is normally shaped like a spherical baseball, but in the majority of astigmatism cases, it has either an oblong or oval shape. Aside from this, a lens of irregular shape might also cause astigmatism, as well as an injury to the eye, some infection that has left the scar on the cornea, or a disease, which results in gradual thinning of the cornea.

Astigmatism is often an accompanying symptom of either farsightedness or nearsightedness, and the problems that can be experienced because of it are headaches, eye strain, and distorted vision regardless of the distance. However, in some cases, the symptoms are so mild that the people (particularly children) are not even aware of the fact that they have this problem, which is why it is necessary to make sure that the child has eye exams at regular intervals. Besides corneal type of astigmatism, there is another type called lenticular, and it is usually caused by metabolic diseases such as diabetes, for example.

How can it be treated?

This problem can be treated successfully and rather easily if the person suffers from regular astigmatism, while cases of irregular astigmatism tend to be a bit more complicated for the treatment. However, it is important to detect the problem as soon as possible, because over time, the symptoms may aggravate and it will affect the vision much more. In the majority of cases, the treatment will consists of wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses, although some severe cases can only be treated by surgery.

Today toric contact lenses are available instead of rigid contact lenses, which were used earlier for the treatment of this problem. Soft toric contact lenses are usually helpful in milder cases. As for the surgery procedures, those that are effective in cases of astigmatism are astigmatic keratotomy, LASIK and corneal transplantation surgery. The problems that lenticular astigmatism causes can be solved by keeping the levels of sugar in the blood under control, which is usually done with the help of a proper diet and exercises. These patients are also highly advised to reduce the intake of alcohol, and to cut down on smoking.

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