Vision with astigmatism where images appear blurry.

Astigmatism (“Ah-stig-mah-tism”) is a common eye condition that affects people’s vision. It is a refractive error that results in a distorted image because of an irregular shape of the cornea or lens. This causes light rays to focus on multiple points on the retina, leading to blurred or misshaped vision. If you notice things like blurry vision, headaches, eye strain, or distorted lights at night, you may have astigmatism.

The cause of astigmatism is not fully understood, but the largest factor is related to genetics. There is a good chance that if you have astigmatism, someone in your family also has it too. Significant eye rubbing can also increase your risk. Astigmatism can also develop after an injury to the eye, surgery, or due to certain medical conditions, such as keratoconus. Astigmatism can affect people of all ages, and it often occurs alongside other refractive errors such as nearsightedness (myopia) and farsightedness (hyperopia).

Astigmatism can be treated in several ways depending on the severity of the condition. The most common treatment is corrective lenses, such as eyeglasses or contact lenses, which are specifically prescribed by your optometrist to compensate for the irregular shape of the cornea or lens. The lenses are curved in different directions to help focus light properly on the retina. The corrective lenses can also correct other refractive errors such as nearsightedness and farsightedness. Patients with astigmatism can also be candidates for refractive surgery, such as LASIK or PRK. These procedures use a laser to reshape the cornea, correcting the irregular curvature and improving vision. 

a phoropter used by eye doctors when trying to find the right prescription lenses for patients.

Astigmatism can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam, which includes a visual acuity test, a refraction test, and a keratometry test to measure the curvature of the cornea. Consult with your optometrist to determine if astigmatism is the cause of your eye concerns and they will happily review all possible options to help with the condition. The best treatment option will depend on the severity of the condition and the patient’s individual needs and preferences.