What is astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a vision condition in which light entering the eye is unable to be brought to a single focus, resulting in vision being blurred at all distances.

Astigmatism is not a disease, but rather, a vision condition that is quite common. It often occurs in conjunction with other refractive errors like nearsightedness and farsightedness.

Why does astigmatism occur?
Typically, astigmatism is caused by the front of your eye (the cornea) being more oval than round, and not allowing light to focus properly on the back of your eye (retina). The causes of this irregular shape vary.

In some cases, it may be hereditary or it may result from such factors as pressure of the eyelids on the cornea, incorrect posture or an increased use of the eyes for close work.

How common is astigmatism?
Most people have some degree of astigmatism. However, only individuals with moderate to highly astigmatic eyes usually need corrective lenses.

What are signs/symptoms of astigmatism?
People with significant amounts of astigmatism will usually have blurred or distorted vision. Those with mild astigmatism may experience headache eye strain, fatigue or blurred vision at certain distances.

How is astigmatism diagnosed?
A comprehensive eye examination by your doctor of optometry will include testing for astigmatism.

How is astigmatism treated?
In general, astigmatism can be optically corrected with properly prescribed and fitted eyeglasses or contact lenses. In recent years, a number of options to surgically alter the shape of the cornea, to correct low or moderate astigmatism, have been developed. These include procedures called radial keratotomy (RK) and photorefractive keratectomy (PRK).

Your doctor of optometry can help you decide if these procedures are right for you. There is also a procedure called orthokeratology which uses a series of rigid contact lenses to provide improved vision for extended periods of time for people with astigmatism.

Does astigmatism get progressively worse?
Astigmatism may change slowly. Regular optometric care can, however, help to ensure that proper vision is maintained.

How will astigmatism affect my lifestyle?
You may have to adjust to wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses if you do not wear them now. Other than that, astigmatism probably will not significantly affect your lifestyle at all.