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Home » Eye Library » Vision Problems » Astigmatism

Astigmatism

If you experience a distortion or blurring of images at all distances — nearby as well as far — you may have astigmatism. Even if your vision is fairly sharp, headache, fatigue, squinting and eye discomfort or irritation may indicate a slight degree of astigmatism. A thorough eye examination, including tests of near vision, distant vision and vision clarity, can determine if astigmatism is present. Astigmatism is not a disease nor does it mean that you have “bad eyes.” It simply means that you have a variation or disturbance in the shape of your cornea.


Astigmatism is one of a group of eye conditions known as refractive errors. Refractive errors cause a disturbance in the way that light rays are focused within the eye. Astigmatism often occurs with nearsightedness and farsightedness, conditions also resulting from refractive errors.


What causes astigmatism?
Astigmatism usually occurs when the front surface of the eye, the cornea, has an irregular curvature. Normally the cornea is smooth and equally curved in all directions and light entering the cornea is focused equally on all planes, or in all directions. In astigmatism, the front surface of the cornea is curved more in one direction than in the other. With the cornea’s shape more like that of an American football or rugby ball than a basketball, the light hitting the more curved surface comes to a focus before that which enters the eye through the less curved surface. Thus, the light is focused clearly along one plane, but is blurred along the other so only part of anything being looked at can be in focus at any time.


This abnormality may result in vision that is much like looking into a distorted, wavy mirror. The distortion results because of an inability of the eye to focus light rays to a point.


Why are corneas shaped differently?
Not all corneas are perfectly curved, just as sets of teeth are seldom perfectly aligned. The degree of variation determines whether or not you will need corrective eyewear. If the corneal surface has a high degree of variation in its curvature, light refraction may be impaired to the degree that corrective lenses are needed to help focus light rays better.


The exact reason for differences in corneal shape remains unknown, but the tendency to develop astigmatism is inherited. For that reason, some people are more prone to develop astigmatism than others.


How does astigmatism affect sight?
The clear cornea is situated at the very front surface of the eye and enables light to enter the eyeball. The cornea accomplishes about four-fifths of the refractive work needed for clear vision, bending light rays into a point. The crystalline lens, located behind the cornea, further refines the refractive work begun by the cornea and directs the point of light toward a precise location on the retina, known as the fovea. If light is not focused into a fine point on the fovea, the image that reaches the retina cannot be clearly transmitted to the brain and a blurred image is perceived.


When astigmatism is present, the surface of the cornea is distorted instead of spherical. It is unable to focus light rays entering the eye into the fine point needed for clear vision. At any time, only a small proportion of the rays are focused and the remainder are not, so that the image formed is always blurred. Usually, astigmatism causes blurred vision at all distances.


Who develops astigmatism?
Astigmatism is very common. Some experts believe that almost everyone has some degree of astigmatism, often from birth, which may remain the same throughout life.


Of interest to parents and those who work with children, astigmatism may contribute to poor schoolwork but is often not detected during routine eye screening in schools.


How is it diagnosed?
Astigmatism is diagnosed in the course of a thorough eye examination.


How is it treated?
If the degree of astigmatism is slight and no other problems of refraction, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, are present, corrective lenses may not be needed. If the degree of astigmatism is great enough to cause eyestrain, headache, or distortion of vision, prescription lenses will be needed for clear and comfortable vision.


The corrective lenses needed when astigmatism is present are called “Toric” lenses and have an additional power element called a cylinder. They have greater light-bending power in one axis or direction than in the others. Precise tests will be made during your eye examination to determine the ideal lens prescription.


Astigmatism may increase slowly over time. Regular eye examinations can help to ensure that proper vision is maintained.

In the wake of the latest recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, we wanted to make you aware of new procedures taking place at Maple Grove Vision Clinic, effective immediately.

HOURS OF OPERATION: We will be open Monday to Thursday 12PM -4PM and we will be closed on Fridays. If you currently have a scheduled appointment outside those hours, our staff will contact you to see how we can best meet your needs.

EMERGENCY VISION ISSUES: It’s extremely important not to neglect your vision needs during this time, so please don’t hesitate to call to schedule an appointment during the above hours in the event of injury, redness, discharge, possible infection, etc.

ROUTINE APPOINTMENTS: Currently, we are scheduling for routine exams for *after* April 6th. If you have a routine appointment already scheduled between now and April 6th, our staff will be contacting you to discuss your needs and how we can best meet them.

GLASSES OR CONTACTS (PREVIOUS ORDERS): You’ll get a call from our front desk (as always) when your glasses or contacts are ready for pickup, and you can stop in during our open hours (above) to pick up your orders. We can arrange free shipping as needed, although glasses are always best when we can fit them to you, in-person. Please call to discuss options.

NEED MORE CONTACTS? We need your business in order to stay in business, and we’re happy to re-fill orders for contacts and ship directly to your home for free.  Just call during our business hours to order or you can also go to our website www.maplegrovevisionclinic.com to order as well.

HOW TO REACH US: Call 763-420-8030 during business hours, or email us at drfrick@maplegrovevisionclinic.com

The health and safety of our patients has always been a top priority. As a reminder, here are the actions we take whenever a patient is in our office:

ONGOING SAFETY MEASURES:

NEW SAFETY MEASURES:

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

Please do not come in to our office if you’ve traveled out of the country in the last 14 days, have any symptoms of flu-like or respiratory illness, or have had known contact with anyone who has exhibited such symptoms or tested positive for the coronavirus. As noted above, we are happy to ship any orders directly to your home, or work with a family member to make sure your vision needs are being met.

We will continue to give (and follow) recommendations based on the evidence we have on safe delivery of eye care in a time of uncertainty.  We appreciate your continued support and understanding.

Sincerely,

Dr. Scott A. Frick and staff at MGVC

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Dear Patients- Our hours during this medical emergency are: Monday to Thursday 12PM -4PM and we will be closed on Fridays.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.