Check for underlying conditions

As eye-care professionals, we share the concerns raised regarding the high prevalence of astigmatism in children ("Astigmatism 'common' in kids with vision problems"; last Thursday).

Astigmatism occurs when the cornea, the clear front covering of the eye, is shaped like a rugby ball instead of a perfect sphere, like a football ball. This causes objects to appear distorted. Unlike myopia (short-sightedness), which allows a clear image for near objects, a child with uncorrected astigmatism experiences constant blurred or distorted vision at all distances.

This may affect the development of the child's visual system, leading to permanent vision loss if left untreated.

The article mentioned a parent who noticed her child rubbing his eyes. The child was subsequently diagnosed with astigmatism. Rubbing of the eyes is known to be associated with astigmatism.

Studies have shown that children with conditions such as allergic conjunctivitis tend to rub their eyes frequently to relieve itch and this may distort the shape of the cornea, causing astigmatism.

A comprehensive eye examination by an eye-care professional is recommended not only to diagnose the presence of astigmatism but also to exclude any underlying eye conditions associated with astigmatism.

The most common form of correction for astigmatism is prescription lenses.

However, if there is an underlying condition, such as allergic conjunctivitis associated with the astigmatism, it is equally important to treat it.

It is recommended that children have regular eye examinations every six to 12 months and keep their glasses' prescription updated regularly as their eyes develop.

Lim Yun Chong

Dr Elaine Huang Huizhen

Dr Au Eong Kah Guan

This article was first published on Oct 27, 2014.
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