Astigmatism is an imperfection in your eyes visual system that can cause blurry vision. Just like other refractive errors such as myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism causes the light to not focus properly in the eye. Because astigmatism is commonly referred to the minor component of your prescription, it is typically found in eyes that also are nearsighted or farsighted.

Astigmatism can affect both far and near vision causing various levels of blurriness, distortion and glare. If you have astigmatism, your eyes will not properly focus the light onto your retina. This imperfect visual system creates multiple areas of blurred vision and prevents you from seeing your best.

If not corrected properly, astigmatism can lead to eyestrain and headaches in individuals. The more astigmatism that you have, the more that it will affect your vision.

What Causes Astigmatism?

Just like other refractive errors, astigmatism is caused by the front part of the eye (cornea) not being perfectly shaped. For those with astigmatism, the curvature or the shape of the cornea is curved more in one direction than the other. A common description, though extreme, is that the eye is curved more like the shape of a football rather than a basketball. This non-spherical shape results in multiple focal points of your vision causing blurriness and distortion.

Astigmatism does appear to be an inherited trait as is the case with all refractive errors. However, genetics does not appear to play as dominate of a role with corneal astigmatism as it does with myopia and hyperopia. Meaning, it is very likely that everyone will develop some level of astigmatism. However, just because a parent has a lot of astigmatism in their eyes that does not mean their children will have the same amount.

How To Correct Astigmatism

Glasses, contacts, LASIK and other eye surgeries can all correct astigmatism in your eyes.

Glasses and Contact Lenses for Astigmatism

Glasses and contact lenses do not necessarily correct or treat astigmatism as much as they eliminate the blurry and distorted vision. Glasses and contact lenses improve or focus the out-of-focus light caused by astigmatism. This focusing of light offsets the blurriness to provide clear vision at distance and near.

Contact lenses that are made for astigmatism are called toric contact lenses. Toric contact lenses are most commonly soft, single-use contacts that are specially designed to fit on an astigmatic eye.

LASIK and Eye Surgery for Astigmatism

Astigmatism can only be fixed by LASIK or eye surgery. LASIK and other common eye surgeries for astigmatism can permanently reshape the cornea in your eye to eliminate astigmatism and other refractive errors. These eye surgeries are an effective and safe way to correct astigmatism and reduce the need or your dependency on glasses or contact lenses.

This article was written by Arti, an AI model curated by the eye care professionals at The Optical. Co.

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