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ABC Children's Eye Specialists

Ophthalmologists & Optometrists located in Avondale, Phoenix, & Mesa, AZ

Refractive errors are when your eyes don’t properly focus light, leading to blurry vision. One common type of refractive error is astigmatism, which is usually present at birth and the reason why children need to wear glasses. At ABC Children’s Eye Specialists in Phoenix, Avondale, and Mesa, Arizona, the team of pediatric optometrists and ophthalmologists diagnose astigmatism and treat it with prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses. Schedule an appointment online or over the phone.

Astigmatism Q & A

What is astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a refractive error, like being nearsighted or farsighted. A refractive error means the eye has difficulty focusing light because of the eye’s shape, and the uncorrected vision is blurry.

Astigmatism is not a disease, and it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with your child’s eye health. It does mean, however, that your child probably needs glasses.

Astigmatic eyes have an irregular shape, so they bend light unevenly, producing blurry, wavy, or distorted images. Eyes without astigmatism are smooth and even, bending light evenly in all directions, producing a clear image.

Eyes are rarely perfectly round, so nearly everyone has at least some astigmatism. Astigmatism requires corrective treatment only if it’s significant enough that your child has a hard time seeing.

Children with untreated astigmatism might:

  • Squint
  • Tilt their head or cover one eye to see
  • Hold handheld devices too close to their faces or sit too close to the television
  • Rub their eyes excessively
  • Complain of headaches
  • Have difficulty reading or concentrating at school

Be sure to schedule an appointment at ABC Children’s Eye Specialists if your child displays any of these habits or problems.

What causes astigmatism?

Astigmatism is genetic, and children are usually diagnosed with it after they start school and have a hard time reading or concentrating. In fact, it’s fairly common for children to be misdiagnosed with learning or behavioral disorders when they simply need glasses.

Astigmatism usually gets worse as children age and their eyes continue to develop; if your child needs corrective lenses, they should get annual eye exams starting at age six. Generally, children need a new, stronger eyeglass prescription more often than adults. Astigmatism typically stabilizes around age 20.

How is astigmatism diagnosed and treated?

Every eye exam at ABC Children’s Eye Specialists includes testing for refractive errors, including a through visual acuity test, where your child reads letters on a chart that get gradually smaller (or pictures if they’re too young to read), and a refraction, which allows your child’s doctor to pinpoint their corrective lens prescription.

Your child’s doctor can recommend glasses or contacts so they can see clearly despite their astigmatism. Glasses may be a better choice for children who are 12 years old or younger, though it’s not strictly an issue of age. Along with your child’s doctor, you can decide if your child is ready for contact lenses.

Schedule an eye exam for your child at ABC Children’s Eye Specialists online or over the phone.