Astigmatism is a common and treatable eye condition which causes irregular focus.

What is astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a common and treatable eye condition which causes irregular focus.

Usually, the front surface of an eye is rounded like a football but in an eye with astigmatism, this is shaped like an oval rugby ball. This changes the path of light into the eye, so that the image formed at the back of the eye is not sharply focused.

Alongside astigmatism, vision issues such as short or long sightedness are also common.

Astigmatism typically develops in early childhood or in your teens. Most people have a small degree of astigmatism. If high astigmatism develops in early childhood it can cause a lazy eye. Vision checks performed in children starting reception year at school are designed to pick up issues including short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism.

What are astigmatism symptoms?

  • Blurring and distortion of near or far-away objects
  • Headaches when trying to focus
  • Tired eyes

How can I confirm if I have astigmatism?

Your optometrist or ophthalmologist will conduct a comprehensive examination of your eye to check whether you have an astigmatism. There are several tests that they may use, including a visual acuity assessment test where you will be asked to read from a chart of letters at a certain distance.

A refraction test uses different corrective lenses at varying strengths so your optometrist or ophthalmologist can find a lens prescription that is best for your vision needs. Another diagnosis instrument that may be used is a keratometer, which allows the doctor to measure your cornea’s curvature.

What causes astigmatism?

Exact astigmatism causes are unknown, although genetics can play a part. Sometimes astigmatism can develop after an eye injury, surgery or due to an eye disease. Watching television, using a computer or mobile device regularly or reading in bad light does not cause astigmatism. Many people with a small degree of astigmatism have excellent eye sight. Those with more severe astigmatism though may experience the symptoms listed above.

If discomfort or eyesight astigmatism symptoms are having an impact on your enjoyment or ability to perform day-to-day activities, then it is recommended you consult an optometrist or ophthalmologist. They will be able to assess whether you have astigmatism, determine its severity and advise you on your further treatment options.

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