Astigmatism is one of the most common vision problems. You may have heard people say ‘one of my eyes has a stigmatism.’ That’s not quite right. The condition is known as ‘astigmatism’*— one word —but you can have different degrees of astigmatism in each eye. Astigmatism is one of four refractive errors (vision conditions that happen when the shape of your eye prevents light from focusing directly on the retina), along with nearsightedness, farsightedness, and presbyopia. 1 in 9 of us will be diagnosed with astigmatism. Mostly, it’s a minor thing that’s barely noticeable. But if you have a higher degree of astigmatism, you’ll notice blurry or distorted vision. It’s easily checked when you get an eye exam and your doctor can help determine if your astigmatism needs vision correction or not.
Astigmatism occurs when your eye can’t focus light evenly onto the retina because your cornea, the clear round dome that covers your iris and pupil, and your lens, are irregularly shaped. In an eye without astigmatism, the cornea and lens are equally curved and the light is refracted or bent at a single point on the retina. With astigmatism, irregular shape in the cornea and lens prevents light rays from focusing on one point. Usually people with astigmatism are born with it, but in rare cases, astigmatism may develop after an eye injury or eye surgery.
Unlike nearsightedness or farsightedness, astigmatism affects your vision at any distance. That makes it difficult to diagnose without an eye exam*. Astigmatism symptoms show up as general signs of vision issues and vary in severity. Notice one or more of the symptoms listed below in yourself or your kids? Schedule an eye exam* appointment with your eye doctor, who can help determine if any symptoms are related to astigmatism.
• Blurry vision• Areas of distorted vision• Eyestrain• Headaches
• A need to squint to see clearly
Typically astigmatism is treatable with prescription eyeglasses or contacts. You can have just astigmatism, or it can be part of a diagnosis with myopia or hyperopia. If your astigmatism is mild to moderate, you can wear soft contacts called toric lenses. If it’s more severe, your eye doctor may treat your astigmatism by recommending prescription eyeglasses or rigid contacts, also called GP for Gas Permeable or RG for Rigid Gas Pearmeable.