Does Astigmatism Change with Age?

does-astignatism-change-with-age

ANSWER:

Astigmatism does change with age.

More Info: Up until the age of between 40 and 45, astigmatism, a vision problem related to irregularities in the shape of the cornea, tends statistically to increase. However, beyond that point, the prevalence is for astigmatism to then stabilize or decrease.

As people grow older, the pressure on the corneal surface from upper tarsal plates decreases, lessening the likelihood of ongoing changes in the surface of the human eye from circular to elliptical. At the same time, patients who suffer from astigmatism are likely to experience so-called “with-the-rule” symptoms during their first eye exam after age 40.

Choosing the Right Contact Lens

A recent sampling of UK eye prescription wearers found that nearly half of them suffered from astigmatism in at least one eye. A new kind of contact lens, the toric, has been developed specifically for people who suffer from astigmatism.

When the human cornea is shaped like a football rather than a baseball, as is the case for astigmatism sufferers, it focuses light correctly along one axis (vertical) but incorrectly along the other axis (horizontal). As a result, light that enters the eye is not focused on a single point on the retina, resulting in blurred or distorted vision.

Toric contact lenses are designed to help focus light on a single point. Soft versions of these lenses can typically be worn over the span of 30 days.

The Impact of Cataract Surgery

In the case of both adults and children, many studies have shown a positive reduction in astigmatism in the wake of cataract surgery. For example, one sampling by Israeli researchers of child patients of cataract surgery found that a significant spontaneous reduction in astigmatism followed.

Twenty-four children were monitored between 1996 and 1999 for this survey, forming a small but valid representation sample. Surgery is obviously a man-made interruption of the natural aging process, without which astigmatism will tend to remain at the same level or increase among sufferers until their early 40s.

 

Resources

Pacific University – “Age-Related Changes in Astigmatism”, Retrieved January 30, 2011 from http://www.pacificu.edu/optometry/ce/courses/16554/agingeyepg2.cfm#Astigmatism

Eye & Contact Lens – “Study Reveals Prevalence of Astigmatism Among Potential Contact Lens Wearers”, January 3, 2011, Retrieved January 30, 2011 from http://www.contactlensheadlines.com/1422/astigmatism-contact-lens-study/

Bausch & Lomb – “Pure Vision Toric Contact Lenses”, Retrieved January 30, 2011 from http://www.bausch.com/en_us/consumer/visioncare/product/softcontacts/purevision_toric.aspx

Nature.com – “Changes in Astigmatism After Congenital Cataract Surgery”, Retrieved January 30, 2011 from http://www.nature.com/eye/journal/v16/n4/full/6700012a.html

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