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Byline: Dr Miriam Stoppard's health focus

What is it? The cornea, the transparent covering over the front of the eye, becomes unevenly curved, distorting your vision so small print appears blurred.

As well as making reading hard, people with an astigmatism will have problems with both near as well as distant vision.

If you start experiencing these difficulties you need an eye test. But in most cases an astigmatism is present from birth.

What's the treatment? ? Vision can usually be corrected by glasses with specially curved lenses to compensate for the unevenly shaped cornea.

Rigid contact lenses are also effective because they smooth out the surface of the cornea.

Conventional soft contact lenses mould themselves to the shape of the cornea and normally can only correct mild cases of astigmatism. However, you can get soft contact lenses known as toric lenses, which have been designed to get over the problem.

An astigmatism can also be corrected by surgery where the cornea is reshaped to get rid of the uneven curve. One of the most widely used, as well as least intrusive forms of treatment is laser surgery, which causes only minimal scarring.
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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion, Column
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 18, 2013
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