Astigmatism is a very common abnormality of the visual system. Approximately 40% of children have this problem.
Astigmatism affects a child’s well-being, development, and school performance. Most importantly, if this disease is not treated, it can lead to even greater visual impairments. That is why it is crucial to visit an ophthalmologist in time.
What is astigmatism?
In the normal state, the cornea and lens have a perfect spherical surface, and the light beams are refracted into a single point (focus) on the retina, forming a clear image. If the cornea or lens is irregularly shaped, there will be several focusing points and the image will be blurred. This faulty refraction is called astigmatism.
Causes of astigmatism:
- Congenital: In 98% of cases, astigmatism is inherited. Thus, a child is born with this disorder. This is why it is essential to consult an ophthalmologist as early as possible.
- Acquired: Injuries, viral or bacterial diseases, etc.
Consequences of astigmatism in children
In astigmatism, the child sees objects distorted, for example, instead of a dot, he/she may see a line or an oval. Worse yet, amblyopia often develops with astigmatism. This condition is also called the lazy eye, because the brain does not process the signal coming from the eye, and it simply stops working.
Obviously, the quality of vision depends on the type and degree of astigmatism.
Types of astigmatism:
Often astigmatism is paired with other types of refractive error: myopia (myopic form) or hyperopia in children (hypermetropic form). Depending on the type of refractive error, there are different forms of astigmatism:
Simple myopic or hyperopic astigmatism. When one meridian of the eye provokes myopia or hyperopia and the other has normal refraction and hits the right spot on the retina.
Complex astigmatism. When both meridians of the eye have different degrees of myopic or hypermetropic deviation.
Mixed astigmatism. When both hyperopia and myopia are combined in one eye.
With mixed astigmatism, when there are two types of refraction in one eye, it is difficult to choose the right correction. That is why it is critical that a highly qualified and experienced ophthalmologist selects glasses or lenses.
Mixed astigmatism can only be treated surgically with laser vision correction at the age of 18. Before that age, mixed astigmatism can be corrected with glasses and contact lenses.
Degrees of astigmatism:
- Low — up to 3 D (diopters);
- Medium — 3 to 6 D;
- High — over 6 D.
It is extremely important to identify astigmatism as early as possible and initiate treatment to correct the development of the child’s visual system. After all, the visual system is a very complex mechanism. Just imagine that about 40% of the cerebral cortex is involved in the maintenance of the human visual system alone.
Steps to detect astigmatism in child
If parents or relatives have astigmatism, they should pay special attention to their child. If possible, they should take their son or daughter to a specialized ophthalmology center such as Eximer as soon as possible. Here your child may undergo a comprehensive eye exam and a qualified pediatric ophthalmologist will detect or on the contrary rule out the onset of astigmatism in the child. Your child will also get the right treatment for astigmatism, which will prevent vision deterioration and the development of amblyopia or strabismus.
Symptoms to alert parents:
- The child squints and tilts his head to see something;
- The child has a headache or begins to feel dizzy while doing visual work;
- The child refuses to read and write, or even look at the pictures in the book;
- The child brings a book or toy close to his eyes or comes close to the TV.
Your child should be examined by a doctor as early as possible since high degrees of astigmatism are very harmful to the visual system and may lead to serious illnesses such as amblyopia, strabismus, and other pathologies. In addition, astigmatism affects the child’s activity and mental development.
Astigmatism treatment in children: the earlier, the better
If astigmatism is detected in a child, this situation requires immediate correction at an early age. The point is to prevent more serious disorders such as amblyopia or strabismus.
How to treat astigmatism:
- This is the easiest and most reliable way to correct astigmatism. Glasses should be worn constantly from an early age. It is true that children often refuse to wear glasses because they get in the way, fall off, and prevent them from playing and doing sports properly.
- Contact lenses. Today, there are special lenses for correcting astigmatism — toric lenses, and these are suitable from an early age. The doctor should prescribe lenses after an eye exam. You can buy lenses only from specialized opticians, where you are sure of the quality and originality of the products.
- Paragon (orthokeratology) overnight hard contact lenses to wear at night. While the child sleeps, the lens works. It corrects the curvature of the cornea and vision improves. In the morning, the child takes the lenses off and can walk around all day without glasses and see well. But there is one problem! Overnight lenses help only with astigmatism up to 2 diopters.
- Laser vision correction. This is a surgical technique that is used after the age of 18 when the eye is no longer growing. The doctor reshapes the cornea with a laser, giving it the desired curve. Laser correction is performed without anesthesia, only with local droplet anesthesia. The entire procedure takes 10-15 minutes. The patient can see well right in the operating room.
Eximer Ophthalmology Clinic offers you all the most advanced laser vision correction methods:
- FEMTO technology
- Thin-flap technology
- 5D-Eye LASIK technology
- Lasik technique
Once astigmatism has been diagnosed, the child should be seen regularly by an ophthalmologist, undergoing examinations each year and adjusting the prescription as the eye grows.
Keys to prevent astigmatism in your child
Astigmatism development may be slowed down by prophylactic measures:
- Proper lighting in the child’s room is a must.
- Alternate mental work with vigorous physical activity.
- Do regular visual exercises.
- Give your child a nutritious diet.
- Avoid using fluorescent lights in the child’s room.
Reasons to visit the Eximer Ophthalmology Clinic to treat astigmatism
Eximer Ophthalmology Clinic has a specialized pediatric department, Eximer Kids, with state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment. Experienced pediatric ophthalmologists, experts in children’s ophthalmology, are available here. The doctor has an individual approach to each child and chooses the treatment method based on an eye exam. The specialists at Eximer apply proprietary methods of vision correction to treat astigmatism.
Schedule an appointment at our Ophthalmology Clinic and take care of your child’s eyesight and well-being!