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Astigmatism, Definition, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, complications

Astigmatism is a visual impairment that results from a defect in the curvature of the lens or cornea which results in a distorted or blurred vision. Astigmatism generally appears at birth, but it can also be caused by an injury experienced by the eye later in life or as a complication of eye surgery.

Diseases that cause reduced visual acuity in various ranges of distance can also be experienced by someone who is suffering from nearsightedness (myopia) or nearsightedness (hypermetropy). If left unchecked, astigmatism can cause tired head and eye pain, especially when after using the eyes for a long time.

Causes of Astigmatism

Astigmatism is caused by a lens or cornea that does not smoothly cause light to enter the eye, becoming unfocused when forwarded to the retina. Therefore, the resulting view becomes blurry. Based on the location of the damage, astigmatism can be divided into 2 types. Astigmatism caused by a defect in the cornea of the eye is called corneal astigmatism, while what is caused by a defect in the lens of the eye is called lenticular astigmatism.

While based on the type of damage, there are two types of astigmatism, namely regular and irregular. Regular astigmatism is when one side of the cornea is more curved than the other side. This condition is the most commonly encountered condition and can be treated using the help of glasses or eye lenses. Irregular astigmatism is when the cornea is uneven not only on one side but on the entire surface of the cornea. This condition is generally triggered by an injury that leaves a wound on the cornea. This condition can be treated using the help of a contact lens, but not with glasses.

Cases of astigmatism generally appear from birth, although the exact cause of this condition is still unknown. There is an assumption that astigmatism is inherited in the family. This condition is also more common in infants with low weight or premature birth.

Astigmatism, Definition, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, complications

Some causes that can cause astigmatism:

  • Complications due to eye surgery.
  • Injuries to the cornea due to infection.
  • Conditions that occur in the eyelids that interfere with the structure of the cornea. For example, there is a lump in the eyelid that compresses the cornea.
  • Keratoconus and keratoglobus, conditions in which the cornea can change shape, either bulging or thinning.
  • Other eye conditions that can affect the cornea or lens.

Myopic (hypermetropy / hyperopia) or nearsightedness (myopia) can accompany astigmatism.

Symptoms of Astigmatism

Astigmatism causes visual disturbances that can affect the patient's daily activities. Some symptoms of this condition, namely:

  • A faint or unfocused view
  • Dizzy
  • Eyestrain
  • Sensitive to light beam (photophobia)
  • Difficulty distinguishing colors that are next to each other
  • Difficulty seeing images in their entirety, for example, straight lines that appear tilted

In the case of severe astigmatism, patients can experience double vision.

Astigmatism diagnosis

Astigmatism can generally be detected after a routine eye examination. Since astigmatism can arise at birth, regular eye examinations are also important, especially for newborns and children. In addition, children may not realize that there is a disruption in their vision.

Some possible checks are done to ascertain symptoms and ensure a diagnosis of astigmatism, including keratometer tests and visual acuity tests. The visual acuity test is performed to test the sharpness of vision of an object from a certain distance by reading a row of letters known as the Snellen chart. The keratometer test is performed to determine the condition of the defect in the cornea by seeing how focused the light is transmitted by the cornea to the retina.

Other tests can also be done to measure the focus of light on the eyes. The doctor will place several types of lenses alternately in front of the eye with the help of a tool called phoropter. A device called a retinoscope may also be used to highlight the light into the patient's eyes. That way, the examiner can assess the patient's visual acuity, including the ability of the eye to focus on the light.

Healthy adults aged over 40 years and someone who has a risk of eye disease, such as diabetics, is also worthy of a routine eye examination. Consult with your doctor about the time of eye examination that must be done by babies, children, and adults.

Astigmatism Treatment

In most cases, astigmatism suffered is very mild so it does not require treatment at all. Treatment of astigmatism aims to improve the quality of vision of patients with the use of glasses, eye lenses, or through eye surgical procedures that use laser light. Treatment of astigmatism is given based on the type, namely regular or irregular.

The use of corrective lenses can help focus the light that hits the cornea of an astigmatism patient who has an uneven curve or surface. Thus, light entering the eye can fall right on the retina. Patients can use corrective lenses in the form of glasses or eyepiece according to eye comfort and recommendations given by an ophthalmologist.

The treatment of astigmatism that uses laser light is aimed at repairing tissue in the cornea that is not as curved as it should. The outermost cell tissue on the surface of the cornea will be removed before the laser beam is used to change the shape of the cornea and restore the ability of the eye to focus on the light. This procedure generally takes a maximum of half an hour. Furthermore, the cornea was maintained to restore its condition. Several types of surgical procedures that use laser help for the treatment of astigmatism, namely LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileuses), LASEK (laser sub-epithelial keratomileusis), and photorefractive keratectomy (PRK).

Consult the type of astigmatism treatment that is available with your doctor before determining the treatment that is suitable for the type of astigmatism you have. Also, learn the pros and cons of each available handling procedure.

Complications of Astigmatism

Astigmatism experienced by one eye from birth can cause a lazy eye or called amblyopia. This happens because the brain is used to ignoring the signals sent by the eye. Amblyopia can be treated if diagnosed and treated early on before the visual pathways in the brain develop fully. Thus the child will avoid the condition of the lazy eye.
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