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A Complete Guide To Astigmatism

A Complete Guide To Astigmatism

You often hear the word “astigmatism,” but what exactly does it mean? Astigmatism is a condition that’s commonly misunderstood and unnecessarily feared. People tend to misidentify it as an eye disease. But, good news! It’s actually quite common and not as serious as it appears to be. So much so that many people don’t even realize they have this condition until a trained eye doctor diagnoses it. With that said, it’s important to discuss this topic further so you can learn more about what to do if you happen to have it.


Astigmatism: What You Need to Know

First things first: Astigmatism is a common eye condition that impairs how your eyes function together to generate a clear vision. It’s similar to nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia), however, with astigmatism you have hazy or distorted vision whether you’re trying to see things close up or far away. 

It’s more widespread than you would imagine because no cornea is perfectly spherical. In fact, the majority of people who don’t use glasses also have some astigmatism that doesn’t impair their vision. If we add all of the very minor degrees of astigmatism together, 90% of the population has it.


A closeup with an eye with an eyeglass lens


What causes astigmatism?

Some individuals assume that sitting too close to the television or reading in dim light causes or worsens astigmatism, but this is a common misconception!

Astigmatism occurs when the cornea (the transparent front piece of your eye) has an abnormal curvature or is not totally spherical. When this happens, the light will focus on two spots on the retina rather than one, which causes impaired vision and diminished clarity, or in rare cases, double vision. 

Doctors are unable to explain why the shape of the cornea or lens differs from person to person, but there are several ways to acquire astigmatism:

  • Infants born prematurely are more likely to have astigmatism than those born closer to their due date. 
  • Others may develop it later in life. Surgery, illness, or corneal scarring caused by trauma can also induce irregular astigmatism. 
  • Keratoconus is another cause of irregular astigmatism in which the cornea thins and changes form to a more conical shape over time.


Astigmatism Lights vs Normal Vision

People with astigmatism may squint to focus or reduce glare from light sources. Astigmatism lights may appear “normal” to those who have had it since birth, and they won’t be aware of the distinction unless it’s pointed out to them. While individuals who have developed astigmatism over time may gradually notice that something is wrong with their vision. It’ll be simple for them to distinguish between astigmatism lights vs normal vision. 

Lights with astigmatism are well-known for appearing fuzzy, streaky, or encircled by haloes, particularly at night. The lights seem that way because of the distorted cornea, which hinders adequate light intake in your eyes, causing the lights to scatter. 

On the other hand, lights that form a softer halo shape represent how people without astigmatism see light. Normal vision corneas are completely spherical. This permits light to smoothly pass through the retina and generate clear vision. This is why people who have normal vision can see lights with clarity and sharpness at any time of day.


Car headlights at night showing how astigmatism looks


What do astigmatism lights at night vs normal vision look like?

Individuals who have astigmatism have the same eyesight regardless of the time of day. However, blurry vision may be more evident at night because of the contrast between light and dark. As a response to less light, your pupils dilate to let more light into the eye. Due to this, people with astigmatism lights at night see additional glare and streaks. As a result, most individuals report having trouble driving at night but not during the day. This is because people may overlook the problem during the day since it’s easier to overcome during daylight.


What do lights look like without astigmatism?

For those without astigmatism, the cornea and lens are almost completely spherical, like a bowling ball. This permits light to contact the retina without interference for a clear image.  The light appears the same way as bright sunlight, but with less glare, and no light sensitivity. Colors may also be seen more clearly, and even at night the lights are clearer and don’t induce hazy or blurred vision.


What does astigmatism do to lights?

Astigmatism is known to affect vision at a distance, but it also affects lighting on objects nearby. Light rays are refracted in more than one direction, causing objects at any distance to appear blurry and limiting the sharpness of vision. When astigmatism-led lights are being distorted, they stretch into a wide and starburst shape.


Does astigmatism cause light sensitivity?

Astigmatism can definitely cause light sensitivity to varying degrees. The difference is between how much blur an eye sees in different directions. 

If it was equally blurry in all directions, then you’d have no astigmatism and would likely not be sensitive to light. On the other hand, if it were different in at least two directions then you likely have astigmatism.

In addition to astigmatism, light sensitivity is also known to be caused by many forms of visual impairment, such as cataracts or keratoconus. 

Therefore, it’s difficult to determine whether your light sensitivity is caused by astigmatism without consulting an eye professional. If you have a high degree of light sensitivity, you should make a visit to your optometrist to see if astigmatism is a contributing factor.


How can I tell if I have astigmatism?

Although blurry vision at all distances is the most common symptom of astigmatism, there are other symptoms you should be aware of. Many people with severe astigmatism experience pain or discomfort in the eyes, and may also have headaches associated with the condition. 

Untreated astigmatism can cause significant coordination problems and impair an individual’s ability to perform effectively in sports and other physical activities. Fortunately, astigmatism is a treatable condition. Therefore, being aware of it is the first step in understanding how to manage or live with it. Most importantly, keep in mind that there is no need to panic if you have this common and easy-to-manage condition. By scheduling an eye exam with your optometrist, browsing our Eyebuydirect blog, and educating yourself on the multiple treatment methods, you can develop a healthy routine that will improve your vision and quality of life.


Can astigmatism be corrected?

Some people may choose to pursue LASIK laser eye surgery as a way to cure their astigmatism. However, there are simpler alternatives such as wearing corrective eyewear. 

Astigmatism lights glasses work by including a cylindrical lens that adjusts for the irregular curves in your cornea or lens to reduce visual distortion. Individuals who have severe astigmatism may benefit from glasses rather than contacts.

If you’re considering getting your astigmatism corrected, the right pair of prescription eyeglasses is a must. By visiting your eye doctor, you can find if astigmatism lights glasses are right for your vision problems. At Eyebuydirect, you can find awesome eyeglasses for just a fraction of the price. Click here to get started!


A black and white device used by an optemtrist


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