Astigmatism is one of the most common eye conditions that can affect your child's vision but how much do you know about it? As your bestie when it comes to all things eye, we're here to give you a simple explainer on what Astigmatism is, how it can effect your child's vision and the treatment options available.
What is Astigmatism?
In order for us to see the big, wide world around us, light enters our eyes and is focused onto the retina which transmits signals to the brain to process into images. While this sounds simple, if the eyes are not curved equally in all directions, the brain is unable to process a crisp, clear image.
Astigmatism is caused by an irregular curve in the eye's cornea (the protective outer layer of the eye) or lens (the part of the eye that transmits light onto the retina). Rather than these parts of the eye being shaped like a basketball, their shape is closer to a football and therefore, instead of light being focused directly onto the retina, there are multiple focal points at the back of the eye.
What causes Astigmatism?
Like other refractive errors such as short-sightedness and long-sightedness, the cause of astigmatism is not always clear. It is often the result of genetic factors however, can also occur due to injury, developmental issues, eye disease or surgery.
If you have a family history of vision impairments, it is important to stay on top of your child's vision as the likelihood of them having astigmatism or anisometropia is heightened.
What are the signs of Astigmatism?
For children born with astigmatism or those who develop it at a young age, they may not realise there is a problem with their vision as to them, it is normal. There are however, several signs that YOU can look out for that indicate your child might need an eye test including :
- Squinting to see
- Abnormal head tilt
- Excessive eye rubbing
- Holding objects too close or far away to see them clearly
- Closing one eye when reading or watching a device
- Eyestrain and headaches
- Light sensitivity
- Difficulty seeing at night
Here at Speckles, we believe early detection is the best prevention as it can prevent minor issues from escalating. Check out our blog on when you should get your child's eyes tested.
How can Astigmatism affect my child?
As light cannot focus onto the retina through a clear path, kids with astigmatism may experience blurred, distorted or double vision. This can result in headaches, nausea, eye strain and fatigue, all of which have a huge impact on your child's ability to learn.
If the astigmatism is only present in one eye, or one eye has clearer vision than the other, the brain will rely on the stronger eye, leading to Amblyopia.
What are the treatment options?
In order to determine whether your child has astigmatism, your optometrist will use a keratometer to measure the curvature of their eye, looking for abnormalities that indicate a problem. Additionally, they will perform a visual acuity test, asking your child to read an eye chart from close-up and a distance to evaluate their ability to see clearly.
From here, your optometrist can prescribe specialty eye glasses or contact lenses that correct how light enters the eye and is focused on the retina. In contrast to regular prescriptions, glasses and contacts for astigmatism use toric lenses which need to be placed at a specific axis of that persons eye in order for the clear image to occur. If it is off it can cause disturbances and warping to vision and be quite uncomfortable for the wearer. While these contact lenses are useful for kids who tend to lose their glasses or take them off, most optometrists will prescribe eyeglasses as they are less invasive and equally as effective.
Does your child have astigmatism? Share your story with us at email@example.com