What are the symptoms of astigmatism?
In an eye with astigmatism, vision is blurred due to the inability of the optical elements of the eye to focus a point object into a sharply focused image on the retina. Astigmatism makes it difficult to see fine details, both close-up or at a distance. Small amounts of astigmatism may not be noticed at all. Other astigmatism symptoms and signs are
- eye fatigue,
- squinting, or
- headaches in addition to blurring and distortion of vision at all distances.
What are the exams and tests to diagnose astigmatism?
The diagnosis of astigmatism is easily made during the course of a complete eye examination.
Astigmatism is detected by your eye doctor (ophthalmologist) by either checking your need for glasses (refraction) or actually measuring the curvature of the front of the cornea by using a keratometer or corneal topographer.
What is the treatment for astigmatism?
Many patients with mild astigmatism have no symptoms from this and require no treatment. If there is regular astigmatism and it causes blurred vision, the astigmatism can be compensated for satisfactorily with eyeglasses or contact lenses. If myopia or hyperopia are also present, the glasses or contact lenses can also correct that condition. If the astigmatism is irregular or of a high degree, glasses or a soft contact lens may not fully correct the astigmatism and a hard contact lens may be necessary to allow the eye to see normally. Neither glasses nor contact lenses permanently correct the curvature abnormality. Modern refractive surgery, which reshapes the surface of the eye with a laser, can also be used to reduce or eliminate the astigmatism. Various considerations involving ocular health, refractive status, and lifestyle frequently determine whether one option may be better than another.
Astigmatism is a common form of visual impairment in which an image is blurred due to an irregularity in the curvature of the front surface of the eye, the cornea. In astigmatism, the curve of the cornea is shaped more like an American football or a rugby ball rather than a normal spherical basketball. Astigmatism occurs in nearly everybody to some degree. Astigmatism can be hereditary and is often present at birth. It can also result from pressure from the eyelids on the cornea. Almost all degrees of astigmatism can be corrected with properly prescribed eyeglasses or contact lenses. For a person with only a slight degree of astigmatism, corrective lenses may not be needed at all, as long as other conditions such as nearsightedness or farsightedness are not present.
What is the prognosis for astigmatism?
A significant percentage of the population has astigmatism. For the vast majority of those with astigmatism, the condition does not change much after the age of 25. The presence of astigmatism as a child or young adult does not signify that an eye disease will occur.
Can you prevent astigmatism?
The common types of astigmatism cannot be prevented. The incidence of astigmatism due to trauma to the cornea can be decreased by attention to eye safety.
Reviewed on 11/20/2017
Medically reviewed by William Baer, MD; Board Certified Ophthalmology
"Visual impairment in adults: Refractive disorders and presbyopia"