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Astigmatism: when the eyes are out of focus

Many ophthalmologists believe that astigmatism can be diagnosed in almost any person. The ideal cornea is very rare, and any irregularities of the cornea provoke distortion of images. However, astigmatism in the light form of vision is not an obstacle. Another thing is that about 15% of patients suffer from a severe degree of this disease, when not to do without medical intervention.


What is astigmatism?

Normal cornea has the shape of a hemisphere. Getting on it, the rays of light with the same force are refracted and focused at one point, which is located in the center of the retina. Such a process provides good eyesight, but not all people have it.

In astigmatism, the cornea has an irregular shape, because of which the rays of light are refracted with different strengths and are focused at several points both on the retina and next to it. As a result, instead of a clear picture, a person sees a blurred and distorted image. It is no accident that the word "astigmatism" is translated as the absence of a dot: it is defocusing that forces people to go to a doctor for correction of this condition.

The structure of the eye with astigmatism

In astigmatism, light rays are focused not at one but at several points.

Corneal astigmatism is diagnosed in more than 98% of cases. Only less than 2% of patients have poor eyesight due to irregularities in the structure of the lens.

In rare cases, astigmatism occurs when the lens is irregularly shaped. Like the cornea, this organ resembles the correct sphere. Any other form alters the refractive power of the eyes, resulting in a distorted image. It is believed that such a structure has less impact on vision than corneal astigmatism, since the lens has less refractive power.

Disease classification

In addition to corneal and lens astigmatism, there are several types of this disease. Depending on the causes, it can be:

  • congenital - diagnosed in babies up to one year old and may adversely affect the forming vision;
  • acquired - develops mainly after injuries and operations in the eye area.

Congenital astigmatism less than 0.5 D is common in infants. Doctors consider this phenomenon physiological, because it does not affect the sharpness and development of vision.

Vision for various disorders

When astigmatism is poorly visible, both nearby objects and objects located at a distance

Depending on the combination of astigmatism with other visual impairments, the following types of this disease are distinguished:

  • myopic - a combination of astigmatism with myopia;
  • hypermetropic - a disease accompanied by long-sightedness;
  • mixed - a disease in which one eye is affected by myopia, and the second - by hyperopia.

Hypermetropic and myopic astigmatism are divided into simple and complex forms. In the first case, visual impairment affects only one eye. If we are talking about complex forms, myopia or hyperopia is diagnosed in both organs of vision, and more pronounced pathology is observed in one eye.

By severity of astigmatism is:

  • weak - less than 3 D;
  • medium - ranging from 3 to 6 D;
  • high - more than 6 D.

If the initial degrees of the disease can produce minor distortions, then with pronounced astigmatism one cannot do without medical and, possibly, surgical intervention.

Causes and symptoms of astigmatism

As a rule, this disease develops due to genetic predisposition and is diagnosed in infancy or early childhood. Acquired astigmatism may appear after injuries and some ophthalmologic diseases (for example, keratoconus). At risk are people who have had eye surgery. After such interventions, complications can occur in the form of scars on the cornea, which provoke a change in its shape.


Keratoconus may well trigger the development of astigmatism

The first sign of astigmatism is eye fatigue. A person cannot read and be at a computer for a long time, he often has cramps in his eyes, there is a feeling that sand has been poured in them. In the early stages of visual impairment are minimal, so the disease can be suspected by the following symptoms:

  • eye redness and burning sensation;
  • difficulty focusing eyes;
  • double vision;
  • discomfort in the forehead;
  • headaches.

Children suffering from astigmatism, often confuse letters and numbers, it is difficult for them to navigate in space and determine the distance to objects. Adults usually complain of distorted outlines of things and a drop in visual acuity. If it is corrected with glasses, frequent replacement of lenses may be necessary, especially if the patient has not been thoroughly examined.

Diagnostics of astigmatism

Symptoms of the disease, especially at a young age, can be blurred, so it is quite difficult for non-professionals to determine the presence of astigmatism. Only a doctor can diagnose. Do not neglect routine inspections. To visit an ophthalmologist, babies up to a year must be monthly, preschoolers - 1 time in 2 years, and schoolchildren and adults - every year.


Ophthalmoscopy - one of the main methods for the diagnosis of astigmatism

During the examination, the doctor examines the organs of vision with the help of:

  • visometry - checking visual acuity;
  • ophthalmoscopy - examination of the fundus and vitreous body;
  • refractometry - analysis of eye refraction;
  • biomicroscopy - research that allows to examine in detail all the structures of the organs of vision;
  • skiascopy - determining the amount of refraction with the help of a professional lighting device;
  • ophthalmometry - measuring the curvature of the cornea with a manual keratometer;
  • keratotopography - computed tomography, examining the cornea;
  • fixation of intraocular pressure;
  • ultrasound of the organs of vision.

With the help of these methods, it is possible to reveal even the initial degrees of astigmatism in any patient, including babies from 3 months of age.

Astigmatism treatment

If the disease manifested itself in childhood, it is usually not treated, correcting visual acuity with glasses. A complex prescription is written on the lenses, in which the indicators are indicated:

  • spherical lenses, leveling the impact on vision of myopia or hyperopia;
  • cylindrical lenses correcting astigmatism.
Vision correction in children

Astigmatism in children is not treated, but only corrected with glasses

In order to pick up glasses that will help to restore the vision as much as possible, the patient must undergo a very thorough diagnosis, since inaccurate parameters in the prescription can lead to unpleasant symptoms. In such cases, the patient has a headache, cuts in the eyes, there are periodic dizziness. If such symptoms are present, the person needs re-diagnosis and replacement of glasses.

It is possible to correct astigmatism in adults and adolescents with the help of an innovative invention - orthokeratological lenses. For 8 hours of sleep, they give the cornea an ideal shape. In the morning, the lenses are removed, and a person's good vision persists until the next night.

Astigmatism in adults is subject to not only correction with glasses or contact lenses, but also treatment by operating. The following techniques are used to correct vision.

  1. Laser Correction. This procedure is performed under local anesthesia and takes no more than 20 minutes. During this time, the top layer of the cornea is raised, excess tissue is removed with a laser, and then the gap is fixed with collagen. The vision begins to return to the patient 2–3 hours after the operation, and after a week the eyes restore their functions to the full.
  2. Astigmatic keratotomy. With such an intervention, microscopic incisions are applied to the cornea, which weaken the refraction where it is too strong.
  3. Replacing the lens. This operation is indicated for an excessively thin and severely deformed cornea. Its essence is that the patient is implanted with an artificial lens.
  4. Thermokeratocoagulation. With this type of intervention, individual areas of the cornea are cauterized with a metal needle, which makes it possible to increase the curvature and refractive power.
  5. Laser thermokeratoplasty. This is a more modern type of thermokeratocoagulation. Instead of a hot needle, a laser is used, making the operation less traumatic.
Laser correction

Laser correction is the most popular treatment for astigmatism.

The method of surgical intervention is selected on the basis of the diagnosis and condition of the patient's cornea. For example, astigmatic keratotomy is performed in the case of myopic or mixed astigmatism, and thermokeratocoagulation is indicated for the hypermetropic type of the disease.

Surgical intervention can achieve a complete cure, but it can only be performed on patients who have turned 20 years old.

Life with astigmatism

Under the condition of medical control and constant correction, astigmatism almost does not affect the quality of life. Patients with this diagnosis may well study, work, engage in physical labor, drive a car and even change eye color. True, decorative lenses for the correction of astigmatism have not yet been invented, so that visual acuity will suffer.

The only limitation with astigmatism is playing sports. With indicators of more than 3 D, you can only play chess and engage in shooting. Weakly pronounced astigmatism (1–3 D) makes it possible to practice swimming, rowing and speed skating without any restrictions. Stronger physical activities need to be discussed with the trainer and the attending physician.

Color contact lenses

Decorative lenses for astigmatism are not prohibited, but with their help it is impossible to improve vision

Women with astigmatism are not forbidden to give birth on their own. This disease is dangerous only in combination with strong myopia. Stress during labor can provoke retinal detachment, so doctors recommend that such patients undergo a cesarean section.

Possible complications and prevention

With proper treatment, astigmatism is completely eliminated in adults and is well adjusted in children and adolescents. If you do not pay proper attention to this problem, the following complications may arise:

  • severe drop in vision;
  • strabismus;
  • amblyopia (lazy eye syndrome);
  • pain in the eyes;
  • headache.

Timely treatment is guaranteed to relieve all these troubles, and in the case of surgical intervention allows you to forget about poor eyesight.


If astigmatism is not treated and not corrected, the person may develop strabismus.

In order to prevent astigmatism, ophthalmologists advise not to forget the following rules.

  1. Timely treat eye diseases that lead to a change in the shape of the lens or cornea.
  2. Take vitamin complexes that improve the state of the organs of vision.
  3. Avoid heavy loads: working at a computer or reading, do exercises for the eyes every 20 minutes.
  4. Do not forget about the correct lighting of the workplace.
  5. Try to avoid mechanical irritation of the eyes with cold, sun, wind and sand, etc.

Physiotherapy procedures are very useful for improving blood circulation in the eye area - for example, pneumomassage or color therapy.

Video: astigmatism - concept, signs, diagnosis and treatment

Astigmatism can greatly reduce and distort vision, so it must be treated or at least adjusted. Surgical intervention allows you to completely get rid of this disease, however, in order to prevent recurrence, it is advisable not to forget about simple rules for maintaining eye health.


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