You have probably heard of astigmatism before, but can you explain what it is? Many people have heard that it means your eye is shaped like a football but is that really true? Does it get worse with age? Can you make it better? Let’s explore. Astigmatism is an irregularity in the surface curvature of the cornea, which is the front part of the eye covering the iris and pupil. Most people have at least a small amount of astigmatism because very few things in nature are perfectly round. Similar to how planet earth is not a perfect ball, the front of the eye is not perfectly round either. It’s slightly irregular and that is astigmatism. Astigmatism can happen at any age and is frequently present in young children. It is usually inherited from someone in the family, although it can also result from trauma or infection to the eye. Many people have astigmatism and do not realize it. In some cases, astigmatism will affect vision but in many cases, it does not. If astigmatism affects the vision, it may cause any or all of the following symptoms: BlurrinessEye strainDouble VisionHeadacheAstigmatism is most often corrected by wearing glasses. Wearing glasses does not change the eye itself, the glasses merely focus vision when worn. If the astigmatism is significant, glasses may require an adaptation period. Glasses are especially important for young children with astigmatism because if it is not corrected, they can develop amblyopia or lazy eye. Astigmatism can also be corrected by contact lenses. Like glasses, contact lenses only focus vision when worn and usually do not cause any permanent changes to the eye. In some cases, astigmatism may also be corrected with laser vision correction. Unlike glasses or contacts, laser vision correction is a permanent correction. But keep in mind that laser vision correction does not prevent normal aging of the eye. Unfortunately, there are no eye exercises or eye drops that help with astigmatism. However, rubbing the eyes excessively can make astigmatism worse. People who tend to rub their eyes should try doing gentle warm or cold compresses instead to avoid causing damage to the eye. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, call today for an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam!