Astigmatism and myopia are prevalent visual impairments that often lead to blurred vision. These conditions stem from irregularities in the shape of the eye, disrupting the precise focus of incoming light. A skilled optometrist can identify and address these issues through comprehensive eye examinations, offering tailored treatments to improve visual clarity. In the following article, we will explore the distinctions between myopia vs astigmatism.
What are the Definitions of Astigmatism and Myopia?
When someone has astigmatism, it’s because the front part of their eye (the cornea) or an inner part called the lens isn’t the usual shape. This can make vision blurry. Astigmatism is not the same as nearsightedness but they can be combined. So someone can be nearsighted with astigmatism.
Myopia, or nearsightedness, happens when someone can’t see things clearly if they’re far away. It’s because the eye’s shape makes light bend differently when it comes in.
Both astigmatism and nearsightedness are types of vision problems called refractive errors. They’re the most common vision issues. These happen when the eye’s shape stops light from focusing right on the back part of the eye, called the retina.
Both of these things might seem alike and mess with how well you see, but they’re actually different eye problems. Here are some important ways they’re not the same:
Blurriness in seeing far-away things can happen with both these conditions. But, astigmatism might also make close things blurry. Myopia comes in different types: high myopia and pathological myopia. These types mean there’s a bigger chance of having eye problems.
Both of these happen when the eye isn’t the usual shape. But, the shapes causing these issues are different. Astigmatism comes from the cornea or lens having an odd shape. Sometimes, the cornea might be more like a football than round. Myopia happens when the whole eye is too long, or the cornea is too curved, making it hard to focus light on the retina.
Refractive errors are the most usual eye issues, and how often they happen can differ a bit around the world. According to a review in 2018, it seems astigmatism is the most common among these errors. But, it doesn’t always show noticeable symptoms. Another review from 2016 suggests myopia is becoming more common and estimates that by 2050, about half the world’s people will have it.
The way these issues affect people can be different based on how mild or serious they are. But, when it comes to high myopia and pathological myopia, they usually bring bigger risks to vision and eye health.
What are Their Causes?
Astigmatism happens because the cornea or lens isn’t the usual shape. We’re not totally sure why, but there’s evidence suggesting it could run in families. Also, things like eye conditions, injuries, or eye surgeries might lead to astigmatism.
Myopia comes from the eye’s shape stopping light from landing right on the retina. Sometimes, the eye is too long or the cornea is too curved. This makes the light not reach the retina properly, causing blurry vision.
Moreover, factors that increase the chances of developing nearsightedness can involve:
- Getting myopia from a parent
- Spending excessive time indoors
- Engaging in tasks like prolonged screen use or close-up work
In mild astigmatism, someone might not feel any symptoms. But, the usual signs they might notice could be:
- Blurry vision
- Squinting to see clearly
- Struggling to see well at night
As for myopia, the common signs could be:
- Difficulty seeing far-away things
- Squinting for clearer vision
How are they Diagnosed?
Generally, during a complete eye check, an eye doctor can spot these conditions. Because vision issues might not show clear signs initially, it’s smart to keep up with regular eye check-ups.
To check for astigmatism, a doctor might use these tests:
- Eye chart for visual acuity: This checks how well someone sees at different distances by reading letters.
- Refraction test: Looking through a phoropter helps find the best lenses for vision.
- Autorefraction: This device measures changes in the eye as light bounces off the back.
- Keratometry: This measures the curve of the cornea.
For myopia, the eye chart and a phoropter also help measure vision clarity and check if a prescription is needed. If someone can’t read the chart, a retinoscope can be used instead. It helps measure where the light focuses in the eye and figures out the right prescription for clear vision.
For astigmatism, treatments can be:
- Glasses: Special glasses with a cylindrical lens can fix astigmatism.
- Contacts: There are special-shaped contacts, like a torus or doughnut shape, to help with astigmatism.
- Orthokeratology: Rigid contacts that reshape the eye are used here.
Surgical options like laser surgery can reshape the cornea.
Treating myopia for clear distance vision might involve:
- Glasses: The right glasses can fix myopia by adjusting the focus of light on the retina.
- Contacts: Contacts can also help by focusing light directly onto the retina.
- Orthokeratology: These rigid contacts flatten the cornea to get light on the retina.
- Laser surgery: Reshaping the cornea with laser surgery helps correct vision.
- Phakic intraocular lens implant: When laser surgery isn’t an option, tiny lenses are implanted to fix vision.
- Vision therapy: Some exercises can help people with stress-related myopia improve focusing and get clear distance vision back.
Safeguarding Your Eyes by Knowing the Differences Between Myopia vs Astigmatism
Understanding the nuances between astigmatism and myopia is your first step towards clearer, healthier eyes. Don’t wait for blurry vision to become a daily struggle; make comprehensive eye exams a priority. With a skilled optometrist’s guidance, tailored treatments can revolutionize your visual clarity.
From glasses and contacts to cutting-edge procedures like laser surgery, a world of options awaits. Embrace the journey to better vision, whether it’s addressing astigmatism’s unique irregularities or tackling myopia’s challenges. Start today to safeguard your sight and explore the vast array of solutions available.