Your life and eyes 2 min read

How does astigmatism affect your eyes?

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Astigmatism is part of a group of vision problems called refractive errors and can be just as common as short and long-sightedness. It is a common cause of blurry vision, and many glasses wearers will have some degree of astigmatism. It is detected by your optician during a routine eye examination and is easily corrected by wearing the right lenses. Let’s take a look at what causes astigmatism and how it can affect your vision.

What causes astigmatism?

Astigmatism is usually caused by the shape of your eye; specifically an irregular shaped cornea. A regular cornea is symmetrically round and shaped like a football whereas an irregular shaped cornea is shaped more like an egg, or rugby ball. It is not known why this happens. 

For this reason, astigmatism is usually something you are born with, although in some cases it may develop after an eye injury or illness. You may be more likely to have astigmatism if you are short or long-sighted.

In other cases, astigmatism may be caused by a distortion to the shape of the lens in your eye and is known as lenticular astigmatism. This type of astigmatism is not as common as corneal astigmatism.

A diagram of the eye showing how astigmatism alters vision

Many people do not know they have astigmatism, instead focusing on the other refractive error present, such as being long or short-sighted.

What effects does astigmatism have?

An irregular shaped cornea will affect how light focuses on to the retina, very similar to other refractive errors; this can have several effects on your day-to-day vision

The most common symptom you may find with astigmatism is blurred vision, either when looking at close up objects or objects in the distance. You may also experience headaches; this is because your eyes will be working even harder to try and see clearly, which could put a strain on your vision.

If you have astigmatism, you might notice unclear peripheral vision. In some cases, you may have difficulty distinguishing specific shapes or details.

Eye strain is a common symptom of many eye conditions, including refractive errors like astigmatism. Eye fatigue may be particularly prevalent when you have been concentrating for a long time, perhaps either on the computer or reading. 

A woman holding her eyes and head as she suffers from eye fatigue and a headache

How to correct astigmatism

It is very straightforward to correct astigmatism. Your optician usually prescribes glasses for astigmatism during an eye examination. It is vital to keep up with regular appointments to test your vision and check your eye health as your optician will be able to tell how severe your astigmatism is and can keep track of whether it is progressing with each appointment.

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