Astigmatism can happen in children and adults; it is fairly typical and not contagious. It is usually genetic – present at birth – but can develop after an eye operation or an injury to the eye.
This condition comes from a group of eye conditions called refractive mistakes; these include myopia (short-sightedness), hyperopia (long-sightedness), and presbyopia (aging of the lens in the eye).
These conditions prevail, around half of all adults in the United States aged 20 and older have refractive errors in their eyes.
Q&A About Astigmatism
Q: Does astigmatism disappear?– E., New york city
A: Sorry, no. In fact, often astigmatism worsens with age… but gradually. It is most likely partly genetic and partially ecological. Studies have actually shown that people who move their eyes in a particular instructions a lot, like scanning columns of numbers, will develop certain sort of astigmatism. High quantities of astigmatism are frequently discovered in groups with lower socio-economic status, bad diets, etc.
However not all astigmatism is explainable. Some is even internal rather than corneal (significance, on the clear surface area layer of the eye), which makes complex contact lens fitting a bit. Luckily, it is not a fatal condition! — Dr. Dubow
Q: Could you please explain what is implied by the term “mixed astigmatism,” and if this condition can be treated with LASIK? Thank you. — F.G., California
A: In blended astigmatism, the unequal curvature of the cornea (and sometimes likewise the lens inside the eye) causes one meridian of the eye to be farsighted and a 2nd meridian (perpendicular to the first) to be nearsighted.
Combined astigmatism typically can be successfully treated with LASIK, but results might be less predictable than surgical correction of easy nearsighted astigmatism. Your optometrist can discuss this with you in detail at your LASIK assessment. — Dr. Heiting
Q: I have astigmatism. Would you recommend using contact lenses or simply glasses? — R.M., California
A: It’s your choice. Both contact lenses and spectacles can correct astigmatism. Refractive surgery, such as LASIK or PRK, also is a choice. — Dr. Dubow
Also read: Contact Lenses for Astigmatism
Q: My eye doctor informed me in my eye exam that my astigmatism got worse. Is this normal? I heard that astigmatism’s not expected to alter. — T.J., Minnesota
A: When it comes to your eyes, it’s constantly best to trust your optometrist instead of what you hear elsewhere — unless that “in other places” is another eye doctor at AllAboutVision.com!
Astigmatism is a typical vision problem. In truth, most people have some. When you have astigmatism, light does not focus to a single point in your eye. Rather, it causes blurred vision due to the fact that the front of the eye is formed more like a football than a baseball.
Sadly, astigmatism can (and typically does) change throughout your life, normally for the even worse with age. But astigmatism is not a disease and can be made up for with glasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery. — Dr. Dubow
Q: Our kid is almost 10 years old, and he had his first eye test just recently since he stopped working a school vision screening. The eye doctor said he has a great deal of astigmatism in one eye, and a lesser quantity in the other, which he needs to use glasses all the time due to the fact that he has “lazy eye” in the eye with more astigmatism.
The doctor went on to say that the lazy eye may be irreversible because the astigmatism wasn’t spotted quicker. Is this true? — S.W., Oregon
A: It’s true that uncorrected astigmatism can cause amblyopia (or “lazy eye”). In the past, it was believed that there is a “important period” in youth during which amblyopia treatment should begin or decreased vision will be long-term. Many individuals believed this critical period ended around age 8 or 9.
However current studies of brain function and a phenomenon called neuroplasticity are dispelling the belief that amblyopia treatment is inefficient beyond a specific age in youth.
Make certain your kid uses his spectacles full-time and sees an eye doctor for routine exams to monitor his vision development. Initially, he should be seen more regularly than as soon as a year.
You likewise may want to take him to an eye doctor who focuses on children’s vision and amblyopia treatment. A program of prescribed visual activities (called vision therapy), along with full-time wear of glasses, typically is more efficient at lowering or getting rid of amblyopia than merely wearing prescription spectacles. — Dr. Heiting
Q: Will my astigmatism aggravate if I do not wear my glasses all the time? If I do wear my glasses all the time, will this somehow lower my astigmatism, or will it make my astigmatism even worse? Exist any medications that can decrease astigmatism? — R.C., California
A: Wearing or not using your eyeglasses will not make your astigmatism much better or even worse. If your astigmatism aggravates, this will occur whether or not you wear your glasses. At present, there is no known medication that can reduce astigmatism.
But I recommend that you do wear prescription glasses or contact lenses (or consider LASIK or other vision surgery to correct your astigmatism) if your vision is bothersome without corrective lenses. Likewise, even moderate uncorrected astigmatism typically causes headaches and eye strain.
And, depending upon the seriousness of your astigmatism, it may threaten (and prohibited) for you to own without restorative lenses. — Dr. Heiting
Q: I’ve used glasses prior to, but I was just recommended glasses for astigmatism for the very first time. My new glasses make me woozy when I wear them. I’ve had them for three days. Will this feeling go away, or should I go back to my eye doctor? — Tom, Indiana
A: It’s true that in some cases it takes a period of change to obtain used to glasses that fix astigmatism — specifically if you have moderate or severe astigmatism or a significant change in your astigmatism prescription.
Given that it’s been 3 days and you are still uneasy (I’m assuming you are wearing the glasses full-time), I advise you return to your eye doctor to make sure your new glasses prescription is right and your lenses were made correctly. — Dr. Heiting
Q: At what age can children have LASIK surgery to correct astigmatism? — B., California
A: You do not want to proceed with LASIK surgery until you are reasonably particular your child’s eyes have stopped altering. Lots of kids who have astigmatism likewise have some nearsightedness, which often continues to worsen in the teen years. Most of the times, the minimum age for LASIK is 18 years, and some individuals should wait longer.
Q: My eye doctor informed me that I have astigmatism in one eye and said I could get glasses if I wished to. He didn’t seem too concerned about it. Should I get glasses? — J., New York
A: If you have just mild astigmatism in one eye, you see acceptably well without glasses (20/40 or much better, which is the legal requirement for owning), and you are not troubled by eye strain or headaches as the day goes on, prescription glasses certainly are optional. But if your vision bothers you or you experience headaches or eye strain, I recommend them.
If you are uncertain, you might wish to go back to your optometrist and have him or her program you again how much better you will see with prescription lenses. This can be demonstrated in the exam room without the need for you to acquire glasses first. — Dr. Heiting
Q: My spectacles prescription says the axis of my astigmatism is 140 degrees. However when I got my glasses examined, the optician said the axis is 160 degrees. Is it hazardous to wear these glasses? Will it make my astigmatism even worse? — S., India
A: It will not harm your eyes or make your astigmatism even worse, however wearing glasses with an incorrect astigmatism axis of this magnitude (depending upon the amount of astigmatism you have) will usually cause blurred vision, eye strain and other pain. Go back to your eye doctor at your earliest convenience to reconsider your prescription and the eyeglasses. — Dr. Heiting
Q: I had cataract surgery in both eyes, and it seems like I see less well now than prior to the surgery. I was told I have irregular astigmatism. I did get glasses, which remedied it rather, however without them my vision is even worse than it was prior to cataract surgery. Can anything be done? — J.P., Connecticut
A: You may have more than one kind of astigmatism since your cataract surgery. Eyeglasses can correct routine astigmatism, but they usually can not fix irregular astigmatism.
In some cases, astigmatism (both routine and irregular astigmatism) is induced by cataract surgery. This is since a cut must be made in the front of the eye for the surgery, and as this wound heals it can change the curvature of the clear front surface of the eye (cornea). Likewise, in some cases astigmatism can be triggered by the positioning of the lens implant inside the eye or the implant itself.
If you are dissatisfied with your vision without corrective lenses after cataract surgery, frequently there are alternatives to enhance your eyesight with a follow-up refractive surgery procedure. If you’ve not yet discussed this possibility with your cataract surgeon or a refractive surgeon who performs LASIK, PRK and other vision correction treatments, I suggest you do so.
Q: At what age does astigmatism usually take place? I’ve been using glasses given that I had to do with 9 or 10, and I began wearing contacts at 16. I’m 22 now. In the past number of years I’ve been informed that I have astigmatism. — Alex, Georgia
A: Astigmatism typically starts in early youth, however it can occur at any age. Often, using contact lenses can cause astigmatism, particularly if the amount of oxygen reaching your corneas is significantly reduced for prolonged durations. This contact lens-induced astigmatism generally is temporary, but it could possibly be irreversible.
If your astigmatism continues to change, ask your eye doctor if your contact lens wear may be a factor, and if you must attempt a different type of lens or cut back on the length of time you use your lenses. — Dr. Heiting