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Understanding… Astigmatism

In this article, the COP9 team and our ophthalmologist Dr. Stephanie Zwillinger propose a slightly different content! We’ve tried to condense your main questions about astigmatism, to help you understand it better. So, do you know what this visual disorder is exactly? How does it affect near and far vision? What causes it? Parents, can you recognize the first symptoms? Read on to learn more!

astigmatism

What is astigmatism?

Astigmatism is caused by an abnormal shape of the eyeball, which does not allow for normal vision (emmetropia).

The astigmatism cannot see correctly, neither near nor far. This pathology is part of the common vision disorders: ¾ of the population is affected, at different diopters.

The visual field of an astigmatic person is more or less blurred, caused by refractive errors of the eye. The images perceived and the information sent to the brain are then distorted.

This vision defect requires a correction: only a eye test with your ophthalmologist will be able to propose solutions adapted to your age and visual acuity during an appointment in an ophthalmologist practice. 

What are the causes of astigmatism?

As mentioned above, astigmatism is caused by a deformation of the shape of the eye. Normally, the eye is round, but an astigmatic eye will be oval, causing this vision problem.

In order to see well, the human eye needs light rays, but this light must follow a straight and direct path, passing through the cornea, to be projected onto the retina located at the bottom of the eyeball. In the case of an eye with this vision defect, this light will be deflected upwards, downwards, or more rarely sideways.

It cannot reach the retina properly, and the object being observed will appear to the brain as blurred, distorted, or inaccurate. Focusing is therefore impossible for a person with astigmatism. 

We would like to point out that this vision defect is hereditary!

You are more likely to have astigmatism if your parents have it, and your child’s vision will also need to be monitored. During a pediatric consultation, do not hesitate to inform Dr. Stephanie Zwillinger of your family medical history. 

How do you know if your child has astigmatism?

Astigmatism can manifest itself in very different ways depending on the child’s age, lifestyle, environment, level of visual acuity… All these elements must be taken into account to know if your child has this condition.

In the case of mild astigmatism :

  • eye strain;
  • headaches;
  • difficulty in differentiating letters.

In the case of a more pronounced astigmatism :

  • the symptoms previously mentioned;
  • the child will squint;
  • seeing from near or far becomes more complex over time.

Furthermore, the COP9 team would like to inform you that a child can have isolated astigmatism (only this pathology), but also have several visual disorders such as astigmatism and myopia or hyperopia. Do not hesitate to make regular ophthalmologic appointments for your child in our multidisciplinary center. 

What are the different forms of astigmatism?

This vision disorder can be categorized in adults (and children and adolescents) into 3 categories. 

Weak astigmatism :

  • a slight visual fatigue ;
  • blurred vision at night, or in the dark ;
  • letters are confused.

Mild astigmatism : 

  • the preceding éléments ;
  • an increase in visual impairment at work ;
  • insufficient acuity in dim light.

Severe astigmatism: 

  • the same symptoms;
  • a lack of sharpness closeup and at a distance, on a daily basis ;
  • the inability to see properly.

Depending on its level, it requires a prescription for optical correction (lenses, glasses, etc.) from your ophthalmologist, then a visit to your optician. As an adult, it will also be possible to make an appointment with a surgeon to correct this disorder by laser surgery. But we will talk about correcting astigmatism, as well as refractive surgery, in an article in the coming months!

To conclude our article on astigmatism, the COP9 team and Dr. Stéphanie Zwillinger would like to remind you that in case of accommodation problems, it is necessary to correct a defect, even if it seems minimal, because it can evolve over time! For the very young, early detection is recommended so that a correction can be found as soon as possible. Your ophthalmologist will find the best means of correction adapted to your child, giving them clear vision and comfort on a daily basis.

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