Astigmatism: A Basic Primer

What is Astigmatism?

Most people suffer from astigmatism to some degree without even knowing it. Astigmatism refers to an eyeball that is not completely round. For most people, this problem has only minor consequences; however, it is possible for an eyeball to be oval-shaped, and that can lead to problems. When an eyeball is shaped in this way, light that enters it is not refracted evenly; this can result in certain areas of a person’s vision to appear out of focus and blurry. However, people who suffer from this affliction have a number of options available to them.

 

Diagnosis

Although astigmatism is extremely common, the exact cause of the problem is not yet known. However, identifying the problem is a relatively simple task. The main symptom is blurred vision, and this may be worse when the person is feeling fatigued. This effect can also be exacerbated after long periods spent straining the eyes. It is possible that these rather generic symptoms are the result of another problem, but a simple eye exam should be able to determine whether or not astigmatism is to blame. Astigmatism is a condition that can develop gradually over time, so it is vital that a person who notices even the slightest changes in their eyesight visits an eye doctor as soon as possible for a definitive diagnosis.

 

Treatments

The vast majority of these cases can be easily corrected with contact lenses or eyeglasses. However, most cases are very mild, and absolutely no corrective procedures are required. There are special contact lenses especially designed for astigmatism called toric lenses, and they are particularly effective in bending light in a particular direction. Gas-permeable lenses are also used for more severe astigmatism; however, they are harder, and some people find them slightly uncomfortable. It is not uncommon for people to wear eyeglasses that simultaneously deal with both astigmatism and nearsightedness or farsightedness. A permanent solution to astigmatism is refractive surgery, but it can be very expensive, and it is not without risk. People with other eye-related problems may be ineligible for this treatment.

 

There is a much cheaper and simpler option for astigmatism sufferers, however. Pinhole glasses are made with standard frames, but their lenses are plastic and contain many perforations. Ideal for computer-users, the elderly and astigmatism sufferers, they allow only the most direct light into the eye. The lenses narrow the beams of light entering the pupil, and that produces a greater depth of field. Wearers of pinhole glasses often report the near total rectification of their eyesight. They are also known to increase the brightness of certain objects, and that can be particularly beneficial to those who find it difficult to focus in badly lit environments. Pinhole glasses have a distinct advantage over regular eyeglasses, as they can enable better vision over all distances. Most people will only need to use one pair for all situations.

 

There are many astigmatism sufferers now turning to pinhole glasses because they are cheap, durable and lightweight. They can be used for a number of vision problems, and there is no need to keep different pairs of glasses for different situations. All of these benefits are making pinhole glasses an attractive alternative to contact lenses and regular eyeglasses.

 

Kelly Padmore is an optician with more than a decade