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Astigmatism

What Is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is an abnormal shape of the cornea, or less commonly, the lens. Instead of the cornea or lens being shaped like a round dome, they are shaped more like a football with a more rounded section and less rounded section. The irregular curvature of the cornea or lens causes a refractive error—improper focusing of light rays on the retina—that distorts vision.

Astigmatism may be caused be:

  • Congenital abnormality — You can be born with astigmatism and the amount can change over the course of your life.
  • Eye illness or treatment — Some individuals may develop astigmatism as a result of eye disease or injury. Occasionally, eye surgery can also cause astigmatism.

Symptoms

You may experience a number of symptoms if you have astigmatism, including:

  • Blurry vision — Objects both near and far can appear fuzzy or poorly defined.
  • Distorted vision — Lines, shapes and objects can appear warped or crooked.
  • Glare — Astigmatism may cause a halo- or starburst-like effect to appear around lights and make driving at night difficult.
  • Squinting to try and improve vision
  • Eyestrain — Visual fatigue causes the eyes to be tired and burning or itching in the eyes may accompany the fatigue.
  • Headache

Treatment Options

There are a few different options to treat your astigmatism. Those options are:

  • Eyeglasses — Eyeglasses can improve vision for people who have mild to moderate astigmatism.
  • Contact lenses — Soft (toric) or rigid contact lenses can correct astigmatism. Soft contact lenses are best for individuals with mild to moderate astigmatism.
  • Refractive surgery — The goal of refractive surgery is to reshape the cornea to restore its natural, even curvature so light rays can focus on the retina correctly, thereby sharpening vision. One way to do that is during cataract surgery, when an ophthalmologist makes small cuts in the cornea to change its shape. The most common form of refractive surgery is LASIK, which uses a laser to reshape the cornea. This outpatient, 5–10 minute treatment can correct astigmatism and eliminate the need for glasses for distance vision. Patients may need to wear a shield over the eye when sleeping and use eye drops for a few days after surgery. They often notice an improvement in vision within days, although the full effects may take three to six months to appear.

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of astigmatism, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat astigmatism.