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This lens is round and not squished. It has no astigmatism.

This lens is round and is not squished. It has no astigmatism.

One of the challenging aspects of the job of an eye doctor is to explain optical phenomenon such as astigmatism.  Astigmatism is really just a distortion of light caused by a non-spherical optical system, but that’s tough to make a mental picture out of.  While most people have probably heard of astigmatism, it is no easy thing to explain.  When Vista Eye Care’s owner and optometrist Dr. Brian Abert is explaining astigmatism, he takes a cue from comedian Carrot Top and turns to props.

Dr. Pedroza holds a squished lens that represents an a lens with astigmatism.

Dr. Pedroza holds a squished lens that represents an a lens with astigmatism.  The analogy here is to your cornea, the clear structure at the front of your eyes.  Most astigmatism in human eyes is a result of a non-round cornea.

Most of our patients have astigmatism, some more than others.  Astigmatism is a form of refractive error just like nearsightedness or farsightedness.  When you have enough astigmatism, it should be corrected for optimal vision.  The amount of astigmatism you have is assessed during the refraction at your annual comprehensive eye and vision examination.  Aside from drawing boring light diagrams (yikes!), a great way to learn astigmatism is to view lenses with an without astigmatism.

When a person has enough astigmatism, it will begin to distort their vision both a near and far distances.  This means that wearing glasses, contact lenses, or having refractive surgery will benefit your vision at every distance you view objects at.  Uncorrected astigmatism can result in headaches, blurred vision, eye fatigue, and eye strain.  There are many different way to correct astigmatism and our eye doctors are experts at getting your vision as clear as it can be!

Glasses that correct astigmatism

Glasses are a great way to correct astigmatism.

Glasses are the simplest and easiest way because spectacle lenses can be ground with any amount and location (i.e. axis) of astigmatism a patient may have.  Glasses are also convenient because even large amounts of astigmatism can be corrected for multiple viewing distances.  This means that for people using a multifocal lens such as a progressive lens (such as a digitally surfaced Autograph II from Shamir) or an Office lens, the astigmatism is completely corrected.

Contact lenses are shown that correct astigmatism

Modern soft contact lenses are capable of correcting even moderate amounts of astigmatism.  Daily disposable lenses are even available for those patients with dry eyes and severe ocular allergies!

Contact lenses are also a great option to correct astigmatism.  For smaller amounts of astigmatism, spherical lenses (i.e. contact lenses that do not correct astigmatism) are appropriate.  For those patients with larger amounts of astigmatism, toric contact lenses are frequently prescribed to correct a patient’s own astigmatism.  ‘Toric’ just means that a contact lens is designed to correct astigmatism.  Very large amounts of astigmatism are often best-corrected with gas-permeable, or hard contact lenses.  These lenses allow for the best quality of vision in astigmatic patients wanting to wear contact lenses. Some corneal diseases such as post-LASIK/PRK ectasia, keratoconus, or pellucid can result in very large amounts of astigmatism.

Here is a lens that doesn't have any astigmatism

This small lens does not have astigmatism and enlarges the text, but does not distort the text.

Several refractive surgeries exist for patients wanting to correct their astigmatism more permanently.  LASIK is available for patents with mild to moderate amounts of astigmatism, while PRK is a great choice for patients with larger amounts of astigmatism.  High astigmatism is challenging to correct in a patient’s corneas alone (as PRK and LASIK do), and intraocular lenses (IOL’s) are frequently an effective solution.  All of these surgical procedures carry their own risks and benefits, and you should be familiar with the pro’s and con’s of these techniques before going forward.  Drs. Abert and Pedroza are familiar with all of the modern techniques for astigmatism-correcting surgery and would be happy to discuss whether or not you would be a candidate for these procedures.

This lens has astigmatism

This lens has astigmatism and distorts the text.

Astigmatism is a optical phenomenon that can distort your vision and reduce your ability to see clearly at all distances.  It does change with time, though not necessarily for the worse.  Astigmatism may shift, decrease, or increase in magnitude over time.  Our eye doctors recommend yearly eye and vision examinations to assure that you are seeing the best you can, and your eyes are as healthy as they can be!  Please call our office today at (303) 450-2020 to schedule an annual eye check-up for you and your family.

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