“A Stigma?”: Understanding Astigmatism

Demystifying Astigmatism

Astigmatism is a common refractive error that affects how light enters the eye, leading to blurred or distorted vision. Unlike nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia), astigmatism arises from an irregular shape of the cornea or lens, causing light to focus unevenly on the retina. According to a 2024 study, the percentage of people with astigmatism varied from 8-62%.

“A Stigma?”: Understanding Astigmatism

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Comparing Refractive Errors

  • Myopia: The eyeball is too long and light focuses too close in front of the retina. People have difficulty viewing things in the distance
  • Hyperopia: The eyeball is too short and light focuses too far behind the retina
  • Astigmatism: The eyeball is more spoon shaped than spherical shape so light focuses at multiple points instead of a singular point due to the way it bends through the structures in your eye. Astigmatism can exist alongside myopia or hyperopia.

“A Stigma?”: Understanding Astigmatism

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Recognizing Astigmatism Symptoms

Now that you know what astigmatism is, let’s answer, “What does astigmatism look like?” If you experience any of the following symptoms, it’s important to consult with an optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam:

  • Blurred or distorted vision at various distances.
  • Eye strain.
  • Difficulty driving at night.
  • Streaks coming out of light sources.

Correcting Astigmatism: Exploring Your Options

While astigmatism may sound complex, various effective correction options are available to enhance your vision and alleviate associated symptoms.

Prescription Eyeglasses:

  • Prescription Eyeglasses: At your annual eye exam, your doctor will prescribe glasses for you as needed. One way to tell if you have astigmatism is if there is a number under the word “Cylinder” or “Cyl” in your prescription.
  • Contact Lenses: Similar to glasses, toric contact lenses address astigmatism by providing clear vision and comfortable wear within the lens.
  • Refractive Surgery: For those seeking a more permanent solution, refractive surgeries like LASIK or PRK can reshape the cornea to correct astigmatism.

“A Stigma?”: Understanding Astigmatism

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Astigmatism is a common and treatable vision condition. Regular eye examinations are crucial for early detection, and the right corrective measures can significantly improve your visual clarity and overall eye comfort. If you suspect astigmatism or experience vision-related issues, consult with your optometrist to explore the most suitable correction options tailored to your unique needs.

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Catherine Ong

Dr. Catherine Ong, OD, is an optometrist based in the Bay Area, California. She earned her doctorate from UC Berkeley, School of Optometry and currently provides primary and speciality eyecare in a private practice setting. She has a passion for patient education and enjoys reshaping technical concepts into digestable topics for all patients. When she is not seeing patients, you can find her exploring new restaurants, exercising, or trying out new recipes.