If you wear glasses or contacts you have likely heard the term astigmatism before. If you have been diagnosed with this eye disorder you likely know how frustrating this condition can be and the limits it can present to finding comfortable glasses and contacts.
But what is astigmatism really and can you do anything to improve the condition?
What Is Astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a condition of the eye in which the cornea has an irregular or odd shape. This makes light reflect through the eye and on to the retina in an uneven manner and causes focus problems, making your vision blurry.
While most people believe that astigmatism is a genetic condition, and that there is nothing that can be done to improve it other than wearing contacts, or having risky refractive surgery, this may not be the case.
There are actually indications that stress of the eye can cause, or more often worsen the condition, and that eliminating these stressors can improve astigmatism of the eye.
There are actually two different types of astigmatism: regular and irregular.
Regular astigmatism is the type most often referred to, and it is often described as an irregular shape of the eye, or football shaped eye that is often genetic.
Irregular astigmatism, on the other hand, is usually caused by damage to the eye usually requires surgery or contacts to improve. While both these types are caused by often unavoidable factors, ocular stress has been shown to aggravate both types.
Ocular Stress and How to Avoid it
Ocular stress can be caused by a number of stressors including:
- Extended hours of computer use: Many jobs now involve computers. Long hours of sitting in front of a computer screen can cause eye strain and stress. If you are required to do this kind of work make sure that you take the time to give your eyes a break. Added to the increased use of computers in the work place is the fact that many of us now have computers in our homes. Remember to take breaks from the computer, at least vision breaks.
- Reading: Reading books or newspapers was hard enough on our eyes. Now we also have to take into consideration electronic reading devices like Kindle, Nook, or tablets. This means that even after working with a computer during the day, you may be coming home and spending even more time in front of an electronic screen. This is just adding to the eye strain and stress.
- A job that requires a considerable amount of fine detailed work: Detailed work does not mean that you have to be a master craftsman to worry about this type of stress. Any work that you do fairly close to your face like reading, writing, sewing, or accounting could be considered to be detailed work. Our eyes were just not designed for too much close up work. They were designed to view things at more of a distance.
Ocular stress can also be aggravated by a variety of things including:
- working or watching television in low light
- not getting enough water
- lack of nutrients can also cause weakening of the eyes
Improving any of these stressors, or better yet all of them will possibly improve your astigmatism, or even more likely prevent the condition from getting any worse!
Let’s Look at What We Can Do to Avoid Ocular Stress
When you are working at a computer, reading, or doing other fine detailed work, make sure that you take the time to give your eyes a break. Try the 10-10-10 Rule throughout the day.
If you have a window handy look at a tree, flower, another building or even the clouds. Don’t just glance up and back take the time to focus on what you see outside the window for a few seconds.
If you’re not near a window focus on something in the room that is distant from where you are such as art work on the wall, filing cabinets, shelves, or even another workers face.
Blink. Seriously blinking is important and when we are focused on a computer screen or other detailed work we forget to blink. Blinking allows our eyes to lubricate themselves and relieve some of the stress and dryness.
Make sure that you have excellent lighting in the area where you are working. Even with an overhead light you should have task lighting that focuses on what your are doing. Straining to see when there is insufficient light causes strain and stress on your eyes.
Eat right. If you don’t have time for an eye healthy diet then make sure that you are taking an eye vitamin or eye supplement to ensure that your eyes have all the vitamins and nutrients that they need.
These may sound like they are too simple to actually make a difference in how your eyes function. They are simple, but because of that fact many people just don’t think about doing them. Instead of giving their eyes a break they will normally rub their eyes, or the bridge of their noses. This doesn’t relieve the strain and stress in fact it can damage the eye if they are already dry.
Air conditioning and heater also dry out the air, this leads to irritation and stress on our eyes. Try adding a humidifier to your home or ask your employer about adding one in the office.
Sometimes the simple things are the easiest to overlook. On the plus side, the simple things are also usually the easiest to correct.