The name astigmatism comes from two Greek roots, a that means not, and stigma meaning focus. A person with astigmatism suffers from a lack of ability to focus on near or far objects because a part of the eye used to refract light is irregular. Astigmatism is not uncommon for it is found to some extent in at least one out of three people world-wide. It occurs in over a fourth of all children ages five to seventeen, though nearly one in three Asian and Hispanic children have astigmatism. It is least common in African-American children (one in five.) LASIK surgery can usually correct the problem of astigmatism.
Astigmatism is caused by the irregular shape of the cornea, that part of the eyeball in front of the iris and pupil. Normally the cornea is round. When it is not, then light refracts irregularly and thus does not focus properly on the retina in back. This condition is called corneal astigmatism. The irregular shape of the lens that is just behind the pupil can also cause astigmatism. This is called lenticular astigmatism. An irregular lens cannot be corrected but adjustments to the cornea can still compensate for this.
A person could have myopic astigmatism (astigmatism with nearsightedness), hyperopic astigmatism (astigmatism with farsightedness) or a mixture of both vocal problems plus astigmatism. If a person opts to correct this problem with contact lenses, the lens must be weighted so that it always stays upright.
Astigmatism is also classified as regular or irregular. Most people have regular astigmatism, that is, a predictable misshape of the cornea. In this case the cornea is actually shaped like a football instead of round. Irregular astigmatism means the cornea does not have a predictable shape. This condition could be congenital, but it can also be caused by an eye injury or from keratoconus as well. Keratoconus is a disease that causes the gradual thinning of the cornea. LASIK surgery cannot help someone with this condition. Irregular astigmatism might also be the result of a less than perfect job of LASIK corrective surgery.
Astigmatism in many cases can be corrected with LASIK eye surgery. LASIK is an acronym that stands for the medical words describing the procedure. In just minutes a .001 mm deep flap is cut in the middle of the cornea and then an eximer laser is computer directed to correct the irregular shape of the cornea or lens. The actual reshaping takes less than a minute. Healing is usually well under way in one to three days and a patient can drive within a week.
Regular astigmatism is the easiest to correct. An irregular cornea requires more work and is less likely to be a total success. However, many are greatly helped with this vision problem. The procedure usually costs two to three thousand dollars for each eye and is not without risks. Before you proceed, check out the credentials of the physician. This will not guarantee success, but will ensure the greatest possible success with the least likelihood of complications.