Understanding Astigmatism: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


A common eye condition that affects millions of people worldwide. In this article, we will explore the details of astigmatism, debunk misconceptions, delve into its causes and risk factors, discuss common symptoms, explore various treatments, and provide helpful tips for managing and preventing astigmatism.

What is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism: the word makes you feel like you’re studying for a medical degree. Fear not, Astigmatism is simply the medical term for an eye condition that affects your ability to see clearly. It happens when your cornea (the clear front part of the eye) and or the lens (the part behind the cornea) are oval-shaped, (like a football), instead of spherical, (like a basketball) the more typical shape. Which means the light entering your eye gets focused incorrectly, resulting in blurry or distorted vision.

Common Misconceptions

Let’s clear up a few misconceptions. First, Astigmatism is a rather common condition that affects people of all ages, so you’re not alone in this adventure. Next, you don’t have a stigmatism, the correct terminology is- you have Astigmatism. And finally, astigmatism is not a disease- It’s not contagious. You can’t accidentally catch it by trying on someone’s eyeglasses.

What Causes Astigmatism

The precise cause of astigmatism is unknown, but genetics are thought to play a role. Some children are born with it, others will develop it later in life. Eye injuries and surgeries are other factors that may contribute to its development. In still others, a condition known as keratoconus causes astigmatism. Though the reasons behind the development of keratoconus are also not known, it too is believed to be hereditary.

Clinical Characteristics

  • Myopic Astigmatism

Myopic astigmatism occurs when the principal meridians (Think degrees in a circle) of the eye, focus the light in front of the retina instead of directly on it. It is further divided into simple and compound myopic astigmatism.

Simple myopic astigmatism– In this type of myopic astigmatism, the incoming light creates two focal points- one directly on the retina, and one in front of the retina.

Compound myopic astigmatism– With compound myopic astigmatism, the incoming light creates two focal points, both in front of the retina but, in different locations.

Note- Normally, one of the principal meridians focuses the light in a horizontal direction and the other in a vertical, both meeting at the same point on the retina.

  • Hyperopic Astigmatism 

Hyperopic astigmatism occurs when the principal meridians focus the light behind the retina. It too is further divided into two types, based on the characteristics: simple astigmatism and compound astigmatism.

Simple hyperopic astigmatism– With this type of hyperopic astigmatism, the incoming light creates two focal points- one behind the retina, and the other in the correct position.

Compound hyperopic astigmatism– Compound hyperopic astigmatism, on the other hand, occurs when both light rays focal points are created in different locations, both behind the retina.

Orientation of the Principal Meridians

  • Regular astigmatism

The principal meridian is oriented at or near 90 degrees in this type of astigmatism, which means one meridian is vertical and the other, horizontal.

  • Irregular astigmatism

The principal meridian is not located near the 90-degree meridian, but at an oblique angle or even multiple angles such as 45 or 135. This type of astigmatism is usually associated with eye injuries, corneal irregularities, and certain other eye conditions. This type of astigmatism is challenging to correct and may require advanced treatments.

Common Symptoms of Astigmatism

  • Blurred or Distorted Vision

Ever felt like you’re looking at the world through a funhouse mirror? That’s what astigmatism can do to your vision. Everything may seem a bit blurry or distorted, making it harder to focus on those important details – like the price tag on that new jacket.

  • Eye Strain and Fatigue

It’s like your eyes are running a marathon while the rest of you is binge-watching Netflix (sound familiar?). Astigmatism can make your eyes work extra hard to compensate for the irregular shape of your eyes. This can lead to eye strain and fatigue, making you want to grab a cozy blanket and take a nap.

  • Headaches and Eye Discomfort

Imagine: a pounding headache, like a tiny construction crew working inside your head. Well, that delightful experience can be a symptom of astigmatism, among other things. The strain on your eyes can cause headaches and general eye discomfort. So, next time you feel like your head might explode, remember, it could be your astigmatism– and not on your annoying coworker. Either way, a comprehensive eye exam can rule out one possible cause.

Diagnosing Astigmatism

Diagnosis involves a series of tests to check eye health and the refractive state of the eye. Your eye care professional may use one or all of the following techniques to diagnose astigmatism.

  • Visual Acuity Test

Remember those eye exams where you had to read letters on a chart? Yup, that’s the visual acuity test. Optometrists use this test to measure how well you can see at various distances. It’s like a pop quiz for your eyes – without the need to study.

  • Topography and Keratometry

No, this isn’t a new dance move – it’s a diagnostic method. Topography and keratometry involve mapping the shape and curvature of your cornea. It’s like taking a photo of your eye to determine the extent of your astigmatism.

  • Refraction

You sit in the examination chair, and the optometrist asks you, “Which is better, one or two?” Sound familiar? That’s the refraction test, where you try out different lenses to find the perfect prescription for your astigmatism.

Now that we’ve shed some light on astigmatism, you can impress your friends with your newfound knowledge and quirky eye facts. Just remember, astigmatism may be a little blip on your vision radar, but with the right treatment and a little humor, you’ll be seeing the world as clearly as ever.

Options for Treatment

If you’ve been recently diagnosed with astigmatism, you may be wondering what options are available to treat your astigmatism. Here are three of the more common treatment options for astigmatism:

  • Eyeglasses

Prescription eyewear is by far the most common choice for correcting astigmatism. With a prescription specifically tailored to your unique eye shape, eyeglasses help you see clearly and reduce the blurriness associated with astigmatism. Plus, they are available in stylish to match your personality or fashion sense.

  • Contact Lenses

For those preferring a more discreet option, contact lenses may be an option. Whether you opt for daily disposables or extended wear lenses, contacts correct your astigmatism while giving you the freedom to go without glasses most days. Just make sure to follow your eye doctor’s instructions for proper care and cleaning.

  • Orthokeratology

Ortho-what-now? If you haven’t heard of orthokeratology, don’t worry, you’re not alone. This innovative treatment involves wearing specially designed gas-permeable contact lenses overnight to temporarily reshape the curvature of your cornea. The result? Clearer vision during the day, without the need for any corrective eyewear. It’s like magic, but for your eyes!

Tips for Managing and Preventing Astigmatism

While astigmatism is a common condition, there are a few things you can do to manage and even prevent it:

  • Get Regular Eye Exams

Getting regular eye exams can help detect astigmatism early on and ensure you’re receiving the proper treatment. Your eye doctor will be able to monitor any changes in your vision and make adjustments to your prescription if needed. Our team of expert Optometrists provides complete eye examination in Holt. So, don’t skip those appointments—your eyes will thank you!

  • Protecting your Eyes from Injury

Prevention is always better than cure, so make sure to protect your eyes from injury. Wear safety glasses when engaging in activities that could pose a risk to your eyes, such as sports, DIY projects and Occupational Eye injuries. Don’t forget your sunglasses to shield your eyes from harmful UV rays when you’re out and about.

  • Proper Eye Care Habits

Last but not least, maintaining good eye care habits is crucial for overall eye health. Avoid rubbing your eyes excessively as this can aggravate astigmatism symptoms. Additionally, practicing good hygiene when handling contact lenses is essential to prevent infections or complications. So, take care of those peepers and show them some love!

The Bottom Line

With advancements in diagnostic techniques and treatment options, individuals with astigmatism have various avenues to improve their vision. Managing astigmatism is achievable. Remember, regular eye exams and adopting healthy eye care habits play crucial roles in preventing and managing astigmatism. By staying informed and seeking appropriate professional guidance, individuals can enjoy clear, focused vision and optimal eye health for years to come.

If you experience any of the symptoms given here or experience any other vision problems, contact Goodrich Optical. 517-393-2660.


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Holt, MI 48842

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