Astigmatism is a condition where the physical shape of the eyeball, which is usually round like an orange, is instead oval, more like an egg. This difference in the curvature of the surface of the eye results in blurred vision, both near and far. This treatable imperfection, usually an inherited condition, can be present as early as birth or can develop in childhood/young adulthood. Occasionally, it can manifest after an eye injury or be affected by disease.
Because the symptoms of astigmatism can mimic other conditions — and if left untreated in children, can develop into amblyopia — it’s really important to see your eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam to determine exactly what the cause of the symptoms are. According to the Mayo Clinic, patients often complain about:
- Blurred vision.
- Squinting to see better.
- Night vision issues.
Astigmatism is a type of refractive error, which the National Eye Institute says can happen either in the cornea (the clear surface of the eyes) or the lens (the clear internal structure that changes shape when you focus). If your eye doctor says you have a “corneal astigmatism” it means that you have diverging curves in your cornea. Likewise, if you have “lenticular astigmatism” it means the mismatch is happening in the lens area of your eyeball. Either way, they are both treated with corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses. Sometimes, astigmatism can be corrected with LASIK surgery.
It’s worth repeating that astigmatism is often present in young children who may not be able to tell their parents or caregiver that their vision is blurry. If your child is squinting, tilting their head, or holding objects closer to see them, these are all signs that something may be wrong with their vision. Dr. Cheryl and Dr. Dave are skilled in working with children at their practice, so be sure to book an appointment with them to find out what is causing your child’s vision problem!