It can be easy to tell if you’re farsighted because your vision will be blurry when you look at things up close, but you’ll be able to see things clearly in the distance. And it can be easy to tell if you’re nearsighted, because, well you’ll be able to see things up close clearly, but struggle to see things at a distance.
However, what happens when absolutely everything seems blurry no matter how far or how close it is to your eye? This could mean you have astigmatism, a common refractive error.
But don’t worry, no matter the type of astigmatism or whether or not you were born with it, there are options. We’ve got a couple of fixes for you to keep your astigmatism from taking over your vision.
What Is Astigmatism?
Put simply, astigmatism occurs when the eyes are not completely round. An eyeball should be just that, a ball. They should be perfectly round. Do you want to know a secret? Almost no one’s eyes are perfectly round. So technically, we’ve all got a bit of astigmatism.
However, the problematic vision that comes with astigmatism is only obvious in severe cases where the eye is shaped more like a football. In this case, the light entering your eye is bent unevenly in several different directions. A round eyeball will bend the light evenly for a clear view. When it isn’t bent evenly, you’ll see blurry.
The major symptom of astigmatism is blurred vision. Not just sometimes blurred vision, which you may accidentally attribute to eye strain or just fatigue, but all the time blurred vision. If you wake up with blurry vision every morning, you may have astigmatism.
Causes and Types
The exact cause of astigmatism is actually unknown. Most people are born with the vision condition because it can be hereditary. Knowing your family history is important to help diagnose and treat your astigmatism.
However, you can also develop the condition after sustaining an eye injury, an eye disease or from having eye surgery (in case you didn’t dislike surgery enough…).
There are two types of astigmatism: regular and irregular. Regular astigmatism is the most common type where the eye is shaped like a football or the back of a spoon. Irregular astigmatism refers to the eye having no symmetry at all. The shape is almost completely random.
To know if you have astigmatism for sure, you’ll need to pay your eye doctor a visit for an eye exam. The exam to test for it is simple.
For regular astigmatism, your doctor will use something called a retinoscope (a sort of flash light) to see how your eye bends the light. If the light is bent unevenly, chances are you have astigmatism.
Irregular astigmatism is diagnosed a little differently. You’ll go through the retinoscope portion of the exam, but you’ll also have to get a corneal topography. A corneal topography is an technique used to get an image of the surface curvature of the cornea. This is important especially if you need to have eye glasses made for your astigmatism.
There are several ways to treat astigmatism, but unfortunately there is no way to cure it. But there are ways you can treat your astigmatism so that your vision doesn’t have to suffer any longer.
The most common form of treatment is to wear corrective eye glasses and contact lenses for both irregular and regular astigmatism. Special lenses will most probably need to be made for those with irregular astigmatism so that the lens can better work with the irregularly shaped cornea.
Irregular astigmatism may also be treated using special rigid gas permeable contact lenses that allow the eye’s natural tear film to fill in for the irregularities in the cornea. Science and nature working together in harmony. Pretty cool, huh?
Regular astigmatism is simply treated with regular corrective eyewear or contact lenses. Be sure to update your prescription regularly because the condition can worsen if not monitored.
Though corrective eyewear is a popular solution, it’s a temporary fix. Once those glasses and contacts come off, you’re back to your blurred vision.
Vision Training Exercises
If you’re looking for a more permanent fix that doesn’t involve spending thousands of dollars of laser eye surgery (and running the risks that come with the surgery), eye excises can be a great alternative.
Vision training has been shown to drastically improve eyesight in those with common vision conditions. Astigmatism is no exception. In just a few minutes a day of doing eye exercises, it is possible to improve your blurred vision.
There are numerous vision exercises available online (especially on YouTube), but we’ll get you started with this super simple one. This exercise will help strengthen the eye and help the eye focus.
Hold your thumb out in front of you. Look at the tip of your thumb for a few seconds. Then look at something in the distance. Choose this distant object beforehand so that you know exactly where to focus. Then, look at the tip of your nose.
Repeat this exercise a few times, but not so many times that your eyes begin to tire. Don’t do the exercise too fast either because you risk making yourself dizzy. Take your time and enjoy the exercise.
Eat Foods Rich in Sulfur
Another great natural way to help reduce the symptoms of astigmatism is to consume foods that are high in sulfur. Sulfur helps the body to better absorb calcium which is an essential nutrient in the body and helps keep blood flow regular.
Eating a sulfur-rich diet is thought to help improve the vision of those with refractive errors like astigmatism, myopia and hyperopia.
Some of the most sulfur rich foods are:
- Brussels sprouts
Notice a pattern here? If the food is smelly, it’s sulfur-y! Next time you’re at the grocery store let your nose be your guide in the produce section.
Astigmatism is a tough vision condition to deal with, especially since it is the least understood refractive error. But it is a treatable condition and treatments may one day lead to cures. Fingers crossed!