Eye Health

Astigmatism: Details You Need to Know( Comprehensive Info)


When it comes vision, clarity is king. But sometimes, things get a little blurry. You might have heard of farsightedness, where far-off objects are clear, but up close, it's a bit fuzzy. Well, there's another player in the game called astigmatism.

It's like a twist in the eye's focusing ability, making things look kind of wonky. But don't worry, it's not a disease, just a little quirk.

Let's dive into astigmatism and see how it shapes our view of the world!

Table of Contents

What is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a common eye problem that can blur or distort your vision. It happens when the front part of your eye (called the cornea) or the lens inside your eye isn't shaped perfectly. This irregular shape causes light to focus unevenly on the retina, making things look blurry or wavy.

How Common Are Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a frequent vision issue, affecting approximately one in three individuals. It can be present from birth or develop gradually over time, often alongside nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia). 

Interestingly, the prevalence of astigmatism rises notably with age, increasing from around 14.3% in those under 15 years old to about 67.2% in individuals over 65 years old.

Common Types of Astigmatism

Astigmatism comes in two main types: corneal and lenticular. Corneal astigmatism involves a defect or distortion in the cornea, while lenticular astigmatism occurs due to a distortion in the lens of the eye.

These types of astigmatism can also be categorized as regular or irregular. Regular astigmatism occurs when the eye isn't perfectly curved, resembling the shape of a football rather than a basketball. This leads to blurry and distorted vision. Irregular astigmatism, less common, involves an uneven curvature of the eye, resulting in similar vision problems.

Astigmatism typically arises from a flaw in the cornea, the outer protective layer of the eye responsible for focusing images. When this process is disrupted, vision problems occur.

There are three main categories of astigmatism:

  1. Myopic Astigmatism:

   - Characterized by blurry distance vision and clear near vision. This occurs when one meridian of the cornea produces nearsightedness.

  1. Hyperopic Astigmatism:

   - Results in poor near vision and clear distance vision. This happens when one meridian of the cornea produces farsightedness.

  1. Mixed Astigmatism:

   - Involves both nearsightedness and farsightedness. This occurs when different meridians of the cornea produce conflicting vision issues.

Astigmatism Signs & Symptoms

Astigmatism symptoms can vary from person to person, with some individuals experiencing no noticeable symptoms. However, common signs of astigmatism include:


- Blurry, distorted, or fuzzy vision, affecting both near and far distances.

- Challenges with night vision, such as difficulty seeing clearly in low-light conditions.

- Eyestrain, often accompanied by feelings of fatigue or discomfort in the eyes.

- Squinting to try and improve vision clarity.

- Eye irritation, which may manifest as itching, redness, or dryness.

- Headaches, particularly after prolonged periods of focusing on tasks.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it's essential to consult with a doctor for proper evaluation and diagnosis. While these symptoms may indicate astigmatism, they could also be associated with other underlying health or vision issues.

Causes of Astigmatism

The exact cause of astigmatism remains unknown, but genetics play a significant role. It can be present at birth or develop later in life, possibly due to factors like eye injuries or surgery. Astigmatism often coexists with nearsightedness or farsightedness.

Astigmatism, a prevalent condition, occurs when the cornea or lens deviates from its normal shape. The exact cause of this irregularity remains unknown, but it often stems from genetic inheritance. Additionally, astigmatism can result from eye diseases, injuries, or surgical procedures. Contrary to popular belief, activities like reading in dim light or sitting close to screens do not cause or exacerbate astigmatism.

Additionally, a rare condition called keratoconus can lead to astigmatism. This condition affects the cornea, causing it to thin and bulge out, resulting in cloudy or blurry vision and light sensitivity. While the exact cause of keratoconus is uncertain, it's also believed to have a genetic component.

Reading in low or dim light may not directly cause astigmatism, but it can make it harder for eyes with astigmatism to focus, leading to increased blurriness. It's essential to consult with an eye care professional for proper diagnosis and management of astigmatism and related conditions.

Risk Factors

Astigmatism can have various causes:

  1. Hereditary Factors:

   - Often present from birth, with a family history of astigmatism increasing the likelihood of its occurrence.

  1. Eye Injuries or Surgery:

   - Astigmatism may develop as a result of trauma to the eye or following certain eye surgeries.

  1. Keratoconus:

   - In rare cases, astigmatism can arise from keratoconus, a condition where the cornea progressively thins and takes on a cone shape.

  1. Fluctuating Severity:

   - Astigmatism may fluctuate in severity over time, either improving or worsening gradually.


Here are some simple tips to protect your eyes during reading, work, or study:

  1. Good Lighting:

   - Ensure adequate lighting with a soft background light and task-specific lighting to reduce strain. 

  1. Large-Print Materials:

   - Opt for large-print books and adjust the font size on your computer or online whenever possible to make reading easier.

  1. Take Breaks:

   - Take regular breaks from close-up work to rest your eyes and prevent fatigue. Follow the "20-20-20" rule: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds to reduce eye strain.

  1. Avoid Glare:

   - Minimize glare on TV and computer screens by positioning them away from direct light sources. Consider using non-glare screens to further reduce glare and enhance visibility, especially in dimly lit rooms.


During a routine eye exam, your eye doctor or assistant will conduct several tests to assess for astigmatism:

  1. Refraction:

   - A refraction test helps determine any refractive errors, including astigmatism. There are two types: automated refraction, a quick test usually done by an assistant, and manual refraction, where pairs of lenses are placed in front of your eyes while you read an eye chart and provide feedback on clarity.

  1. Visual Acuity Test:

   - Your visual acuity, measured with an eye chart, indicates how well you see at various distances. This test is conducted both with and without your current eyeglasses or corrective lenses to assess the severity of astigmatism or other refractive errors.

  1. Keratometry:

   - This test measures the curvature of your cornea using a device called a keratometer. Astigmatism often results from uneven curves in different meridians of the cornea, akin to the face of a clock, where straight lines connect opposite numbers (like 12 and 6, 3 and 9). 

Your eye doctor may also do a corneal topography scan, which helps find imperfections and distortions on the corneal surface.


Ensuring clear vision with effective correction methods is crucial for managing astigmatism. Your optometrist will recommend suitable options based on the severity of your condition:

  1. Prescription Lenses:

   - Glasses or standard contact lenses are commonly prescribed for mild to moderate astigmatism, providing clear vision and ease of use.

  1. Refractive Surgery:

   - Surgical correction, while an option, is less common due to potential risks and complications. It may be considered for certain cases of astigmatism.

  1. Scleral Contact Lenses:

   - Scleral lenses are an excellent choice for individuals with high levels of astigmatism. These lenses cover a larger area of the eye, providing stable vision by creating an artificial corneal shape. They offer both clarity and comfort for those with significant astigmatism.

By discussing these options with your optometrist, you can determine the most suitable method for effectively correcting your astigmatism and restoring clear vision.

Coping and Support

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial for optimal eye health, especially for individuals with astigmatism and refractive errors. Here are some essential tips to promote eye wellness:

  1. Healthy Diet: Incorporate plenty of fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants into your meals. These include Acai berries, goji berries, bilberries, red grapes, plums, cherries, spinach, kale, tomatoes, and carrots. Adequate intake of vitamins and minerals is also important for overall eye health.


  1. Hydration and Avoidance: Drink plenty of water and avoid exposure to cigarette smoke and fumes, which can adversely affect eye health. Hydration helps maintain moisture in the eyes, while avoiding smoke and fumes protects against potential irritants.


  1. Rest and Relaxation: Ensure you give your eyes sufficient rest and relaxation. When feeling tired and fatigued, take breaks and practice relaxation techniques such as blinking, palming, and eye massages. Adequate rest helps alleviate eye strain and promotes better concentration.


  1. Eye Exercises: Incorporate eye exercises into your routine to relax the muscles around the eyes and reduce strain. Techniques like eye focusing, swinging, and rolling exercises can help correct imbalances and relieve symptoms of eye fatigue.


  1. Eye Acupressure: Consider eye acupressure to massage specific acupressure points beneficial for eye health. This practice aims to correct deficiencies in eye nourishment, relax facial muscles, and alleviate eye strain and fatigue. It can be particularly beneficial for children experiencing stress and anxiety related to uncorrected refractive errors.

By incorporating these practices into your daily life, you can support your eye health, manage symptoms of astigmatism, and promote overall well-being. The frequency and duration of these treatments may vary based on individual needs and severity of eye imbalances.

Related: Refractive Error Statistics


Untreated astigmatism can lead to various complications. For instance, if astigmatism affects only one eye or is significantly worse in one eye and goes untreated, it can result in a lazy eye (amblyopia). This condition can lead to decreased vision in the affected eye.

Moreover, astigmatism may contribute to eye strain and headaches, particularly during activities that require prolonged visual focus.While surgery is an option for treating astigmatism, it carries certain risks. Temporary side effects, such as dry eyes, light sensitivity, and night vision issues, are common and typically improve within a few weeks post-surgery. However, there are potential long-term complications, including vision loss or the possibility of the vision reverting to its pre-surgery state, which may occur less frequently but require careful consideration before undergoing surgery.

Bottom Line

Astigmatism is a common refractive error of the eye that affects the way light focuses on the retina, causing blurred vision. It often accompanies other vision problems like nearsightedness or farsightedness. Corrective measures, such as glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery, can effectively manage astigmatism, providing clear vision and improving quality of life for those affected. Regular eye exams are essential for early detection and appropriate treatment.