what is astigmatism and what to do if you have it

What Is Astigmatism and How Do You Know If You Have it?

Astigmatism occurs when the cornea or lens of the eye assume an irregular shape. This shape causes the eye an inability to focus light rays on the retina, instead directing it to different points.

Research has yet to show the exact cause of the irregular corneal shape, though genetics and development are thought to have a hand in it. Injury, eye disease, and surgery result in astigmatism in some people. Astigmatism manifests itself in several ways, with some of the symptoms including:

  • Eye strain and headaches
  • Discomfort while reading, whether on a computer or in print
  • Blurred vision
  • Distorted vision at all distances
  • Squinting
  • Pain in the muscles around the eyes
  • Difficulty seeing at night

Save for the above symptoms, there are several other ways to know if you have astigmatism. If you suspect you have this problem, you should pay a visit to an ophthalmologist and request an eye examination.


The ophthalmologist may use one of these eye examination tests to diagnose astigmatism:


Visual Acuity Assessment Test

In this test, your doctor asks you to read letters displayed on a chart from a specific distance to check how well you see the letters.



Keratometry is an eye test conducted on the eyes to determine corneal curvature. The test is done by use of a device known as a keratometer.


Refraction Test

The test is done by an optical refractor. The device has multiple corrective glasses of varying strengths. The doctor instructs you to read a chart while looking through lenses of varying strengths on the optical refractor. Thanks to the test, the doctor is in a position to recommend a lens that appropriately addresses your visual problem.


While mild astigmatism cases may not necessitate treatment, severe astigmatism requires treatment, using either or both of the following methods:


Corrective Lenses

Contact lenses or corrective eyeglasses are the most recommended remedy as they are the least invasive solutions for astigmatism. If the glasses are not present at the facility you have visited for treatment, the doctor can give you the specifications, and you can easily find glasses online.



In case of a severe problem, your doctor may recommend refractive surgery. The surgery involves using lasers or small knives to reshape your corneas. Surgery is a permanent remedy for astigmatism. As expected, surgeries carry some risks. It is, therefore, important to discuss the pros and cons of eye surgery before undergoing it.

The evolution of the medical world keeps on presenting more advanced solutions to the existing medical problems by the day. Many other solutions to problems such as astigmatism are bound to arise.

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Eileen O'Shanassy

View posts by Eileen O'Shanassy
Eileen O'Shanassy is a freelance writer and blogger based out of Flagstaff, AZ. She writes on a variety of topics and loves to research and write. She enjoys baking, biking, and kayaking. Check out her Twitter @eileenoshanassy

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