What is Astigmatism and Who Has it?
Astigmatism is one of the more commonly occurring vision problems. And, like near-sightedness (problems with distance vision) and far-sightedness (problems with near vision), astigmatism is a refractive error—one that involves how the eye focuses light. None of these conditions indicate an eye disease or eye health problem and all can be treated with prescription eyeglass lenses.
Astigmatism describes when light is unable to find a single focal point on the retina and instead creates multiple focal points either in front of the retina, behind the retina or both. Symptoms include blurred vision or visual distortion at all distances. Consequences include eyestrain and headaches, especially after reading or other prolonged visual tasks.
Astigmatism can occur at an early age; in fact, one recent study of children aged 5-17 years found that more than 28% had significant astigmatism (1.0 diopter or greater). While astigmatism is most prevalent in Asian children (33.6%) and Hispanic children (36.9%), Whites (26.4%) and African Americans (20.0%) are prone to it as well.
School vision screenings cannot detect astigmatism but it is easily found by an eye doctor during a routine comprehensive eye exam.
Because 80% of learning in school-aged children comes through their eyes, it is vital to get an eye exam from an eye doctor before they go to school.