Astigmatism

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Astigmatism

Definition

Astigmatism is a condition in which the cornea (the clear covering of the front of the eye) has an abnormal curve, causing out-of-focus vision.

Causes

The cause of astigmatism is unknown. It is usually present from birth, and often occurs together with nearsightedness or farsightedness. A minor degree of astigmatism is considered normal and does not require correction. Astigmatism is very common.

Symptoms

Difficulty in seeing fine detail, either close-up or from a distance.

Exams and Tests

Astigmatism is easily diagnosed by a standard ophthalmic exam with refraction test. Special tests are not usually required. Children or others who cannot respond to questions can have the degree of their vision problem measured by a test that uses reflected light (retinoscopy).

Treatment

Glasses or hard contact lenses will correct astigmatism. Soft contact lenses do not work as well.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Vision is usually normal with the correct glasses or contact lenses.

Possible Complications

  • There are complications associated with contact lenses (including the risk of corneal abrasion), which may develop if contact lenses are used.
  • Unequal astigmatism may cause amblyopia.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call for an appointment with the health care provider or ophthalmologist if vision problems worsen, or do not improve with glasses or contact lenses.

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