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Astigmatism

 

Definition

Astigmatism is an eye disorder in which the cornea (the clear tissue covering the front of the eye) is abnormally curved, 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

An astigmatism makes it difficult to see fine details, either close-up or from a distance.

Signs 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).

Support Groups

Expectations (prognosis)

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

Calling your health care provider

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

Complications

Astigmatism in only one eye may cause amblyopia.

Treatments

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

Severe astigmatism can be treated with surgery.

Prevention


Review Date: 7/28/2008
Reviewed By: Manju Subramanian, MD, Assistant Professor in Ophthalmology, Vitreoretinal Disease and Surgery, Boston University Eye Associates, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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