Francesca: Astigmatism

What do you think when you hear the word astigmatism? Have you heard it before? Do you think of a science case? A bug?

Astigmatism is an eye disorder. It’s not deadly. It’s nothing much to be afraid of. But it may raise some questions, concerns, and thoughts to mind. I have had questions about this particular subject, as well, and I decided to choose this topic to be my Health Buzz project. I was particularly interested in this topic because I actually have astigmatism, but I didn’t know very much about it.

Astigmatism isn’t deadly, isn’t uncommon, and isn’t an obstacle to block anyone from living their lives to the fullest. It is just a fancy word for bad eyesight.

Astigmatism, to be more specific, is a form of bad eyesight where the eye doesn’t take in light rays normally. This can cause things to look differently than they would to someone who doesn’t have astigmatism. Images can be wavy or blurry, and generally hard to see. There are three different types of astigmatism: myopic, nearsighted; hyperopic, farsighted; or mixed, when one eye is nearsighted and the other is farsighted. The cause of astigmatism is an irregularly-shaped cornea. (Your cornea is the transparent layer forming the front of your eye.) Someone who doesn’t have astigmatism has a sphere-shaped cornea, while someone who does have astigmatism has more of a football-shaped cornea.

When light enters your eye, it should refract evenly to create a clear view of what is around you. However, if you have astigmatism, light refracts unevenly, so you get a slightly distorted image. The abnormality of images due to astigmatism differs with each person. Some people may have it so that what they see is only slightly blurred, and nothing looks too irregular, but others may have it so that they could feel dizzy with what they are seeing.

Whether or not you have astigmatism is important to know as early as possible so it can be treated and it won’t get worse. The need to understand astigmatism is fairly important, especially if an eye doctor clarifies that you have astigmatism. If you start having trouble seeing what is happening on the screen from the back of the classroom, have frequent headaches and eye irritation, find yourself squinting often, and fatigue, you may want to get your eye checked. Undetected astigmatism can also have a negative effect on kids our age. It can cause kids our age to feel tired, confused, or anxious. It can also be difficult for them to see things clearly, and it may be hard for them to catch up with daily tasks due to taking time to sort out what they are seeing.

If your doctor confirms that you do, indeed, have astigmatism, it can easily be corrected with glasses, contacts, or visual correction procedures (but this last one is only if it’s very serious and you’re an adult).

I used to believe that astigmatism was an uncommon disease in your eyes. Now I understand that astigmatism is basically the most common form of bad eyesight, which so many people in our world have. In conclusion, astigmatism isn’t as complicated as it sounds, and it’s not something you should worry about, because it’s something that can be easily corrected. What I learned personally from researching this topic is that it is important to understand about ourselves and our symptoms. Looking it up and fully understanding it is much better for yourself than just shrugging it off and assuming that nothing bad will happen. You may be diagnosed with something that is far worse than astigmatism, and if you weren’t initially fully informed, things could take a turn for the worse. It’s important to get a better understanding about ourselves now so that we can choose what’s best for us in the future.

An example of an eye with and without astigmatism

These numbers symbolize the diopter, which is basically how far you can see. Negative numbers show nearsightedness and positive numbers show farsightedness. The larger the number, the more near/farsighted you are.

 

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