What Is an Astigmatism? Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

A close-up of a person's eye with an astigmatism.

Studies show that 14 million Americans are visually impaired. Many of these people with vision problems have uncorrected impairments and could benefit from things like eyeglasses or contact lenses. However, there are many reasons why you may have blurry eyesight, so it is important that you know what is causing your vision problems. One common cause of blurry vision is astigmatism. What is an astigmatism?

Keep reading this guide for everything you need to know about astigmatism and its symptoms, causes, and treatments.

What Is an Astigmatism?

What is an astigmatism? It is a type of refractive error, similar to nearsightedness and farsightedness. Astigmatism is a very common cause of blurry vision that is due to an imperfection in the curvature of your eye.

To be able to see properly, your cornea and the lens in your eye need to have matching curves. Astigmatism happens if these curves are mismatched, with one being round and the other being egg-shaped.

Not only does this cause near vision, but it can also blur your vision at all distances. Typically, astigmatism is present at birth and is not too pronounced.

There are two main types of astigmatism. These are corneal astigmatism and lenticular astigmatism.

If you have corneal astigmatism, your cornea typically has a defect or distortion. With lenticular astigmatism, you have a distorted lens.

A less common type of astigmatism is irregular astigmatism. This happens if your eye isn’t completely round. Instead, it has an uneven curvature that can lead to blurry vision.

Astigmatism Causes

There is not much information about what causes astigmatism. However, the most commonly cited cause of astigmatism is genetics. This is why most people with astigmatism have it present at birth.

If you were not born with astigmatism, you may develop it after an eye injury or after eye surgery. Some types of trauma can lead to a misshapen lens or cornea, which can affect your vision.

You may also be more likely to develop astigmatism if you have a family history of eye disorders, if you experience the thinning of your cornea, or if you have had different types of eye surgery.

Common Symptoms of Astigmatism

Learning more about the common symptoms of astigmatism can help you recognize problems with your own vision and will help you know when you should see a doctor.

Blurred or distorted vision is one of the most common symptoms of astigmatism. This is because the unusual curvature prevents light from focusing on the focal point of your retina.

Along with blurred vision, you may also experience eyestrain and headaches. This is because astigmatism makes it difficult to see clearly, so you must strain your eyes to be able to see objects clearly. This may also present as squinting.

Finally, people with astigmatism often have problems seeing clearly at night. This is because the pupil dilates in low light conditions to let in more light, which makes the blur get worse.

While some people with astigmatism can manage their daily lives, other people have a higher degree of astigmatism. In these cases, you may need to see a doctor to learn more about the treatment options available to you.

How to Diagnose Astigmatism

If you are worried about your blurry eyesight and think you may have astigmatism, you will need to visit an eye doctor for a diagnosis. Optometrists and ophthalmologists are able to diagnose this condition through comprehensive eye exams.

First, they will likely perform a visual acuity assessment test. This is similar to any other eye exam you may have had before. Your doctor will simply ask you to read letters from a chart to see how well you can see them.

Your doctor can also use a refraction test. This uses a machine that has several different corrective lenses, each with different strengths. You will simply read a chart while looking through each of the different lenses.

This way, your doctor can help you find a lens that corrects your vision best.

Finally, your eye doctor may use keratometry. This allows them to measure the curvature of your cornea to see if it is misshapen.

How to Treat Astigmatism

There are many ways that you can improve your vision when you have astigmatism. While mild cases of astigmatism may not need to be treated, the most common treatment uses corrective lenses to improve vision.

These can be either eyeglasses or contact lenses. Using corrective lenses is one of the least invasive ways you can treat astigmatism.

Another option is orthokeratology. This is a special type of contact lens that is rigid. Because it is more rigid, it can temporarily correct the curvature of your cornea that causes your astigmatism.

Unlike regular contact lenses, you can wear rigid contact lenses while you sleep and remove them during the day.

Finally, your eye doctor may recommend refractive surgery to treat severe astigmatism. This includes LASIK, PRK, and LASEK. These surgeries can reshape your cornea to permanently correct your vision.

Dealing With Blurred Vision? We Can Help

When you have blurry eyesight, it can impact your ability to do your daily tasks. Learning the answer to “what is an astigmatism” and its causes, symptoms, and treatments can help you get the treatment you need!

If you are looking for an eye doctor in Utah, The Eye Pros can help! We are a premier eye care clinic in Orem and Layton and provide contact lenses to help you improve your vision.

Contact us today to learn more about our eye care services or to get an eye exam!