What is Astigmatism?

My daughter’s best friend now wears glasses. When I asked her mother why she had decided to get her daughter glasses, she replied that she was slightly far-sighted but had a significant astigmatism. Then she said, “I don’t even know what that means!”

Woman with astigmatism and blurry visionThe word astigmatism is a big mystery for many people. It sounds like an eye issue that would only affect older people – something like macular degeneration. Yet, astigmatism affects people of all ages.

What is astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a type of eye refractive disorder. In addition to nearsightedness or farsightedness, astigmatism is the third, less familiar, condition that can affect your eyesight. In short, astigmatism makes life fuzzy. The person with astigmatism struggles to discern fine details. Often, like in the case of my daughter’s friend, it accompanies myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness).

Why do some people have astigmatism? It has to do with the curvature of the cornea. People with astigmatism have corneas without “uniform curvature.” In other words, their corneas curve in an asymmetrical way. Astigmatism can also be a result of an asymmetrical curve of the eye’s lens.

Because of the lack of symmetry, the cornea doesn’t properly focus on the image it sends to the retina. Like a fun house mirror, the image it sees can look stretched out, out of focus and blurry.

Astigmatism Symptoms

Symptoms of astigmatism are straightforward. If you experience headaches, eyestrain or feel that your vision is blurry, you should see your Eyeglass World optometrist. These could be signs that you have astigmatism, or that your astigmatism is worsening and a new prescription is necessary.

Unfortunately, astigmatism can sometimes be more subtle. As the eyes adjust and compensate for their blurry view of the world, some people may not realize that they can’t see as clearly as they should until they undergo a comprehensive eye examination.

The good news about astigmatism is that it’s treatable. Eyeglass lenses for those with astigmatism take a subtly curved shape to counteract the curve in the eye’s lens or cornea. For those with significant astigmatism, it could take a week or so to adjust to new glasses because looking through the lenses may make the world seem a bit slanted. After that initial adjustment period, most enjoy how much clearer the world becomes when they look through their lenses. There are also many contact lens options for those with astigmatism.Find a Store button

Talk to your Eyeglass World optometrist about the options that are right for you.