In the medical field, sometimes it feels like the more confusing the word is, the simpler the condition. For example, you most definitely suffered from sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia at some point in your childhood, though your friends called it something different. Astigmatism is just like that. Despite the confusing name, it really just means your eye is not as perfectly round as it should be.
By the way, sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia? It means brain freeze.
Cornea and Lens
In a perfect world, ice cream would never hurt you and the shape of your eye would be symmetrically round. When we say the shape of your “eye,” we specifically mean the cornea and the lens. Both of these are responsible for bending (or, refracting) light rays in such a way that your vision is always clear and in focus. In order for that to happen, your cornea and lens need to be smooth with an even curve.
Astigmatism means that there are some imperfections in that curvature. This results in light being refracted wrong aka you mistaking your son who is overdue for a haircut for your daughter because their faces are blurry and they both have long hair (if your vision is that bad, go ahead and call us now instead of finishing this article!).
Astigmatism can be classified depending on what part of your eye is irregular and what vision errors you experience as a result. If your cornea is distorted, you have corneal astigmatism. If the error is with your lens instead, you have lenticular astigmatism.
Depending on how the irregularity affects your vision, you could further suffer from myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness), or a mix of both. These terms should not be confused with dystopia, which only affects your vision of the future and not your physical eyesight.
You may hear your optometrist refer to the terms together, as in, corneal myopic astigmatism. Either way, it just means that your eye needs a little help getting light into focus.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Luckily, a simple but comprehensive eye checkup is all it takes to determine your eye health and what can be done to correct it. This will start with some exercises—like reading from a chart—to test your visual acuity. If necessary, your optometrist may use a device called a keratometer, which uses light to precisely measure the curvature of your cornea. Lastly, your doctor may have you look through a phoropter, which allows them to place a series of lenses in front of your eyes. As they switch between lenses, you can tell them which ones seem to make your vision better or worse. This helps the doctor to determine what lenses will best help you.
After all, this is done, your optometrist will give you some recommendations, typically glasses or contacts. And that’s it! Simple, right? All it takes is for you to schedule your eye exam with Eye Care of Virginia Culpepper & King George and we will get you all taken care of!
If only curing Sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia was that easy…