Coping with Astigmatism

An Overview

Good eyesight calls for light to pass though an evenly curved cornea and refracts correctly to register the image into the retina for you to see clearly. Any surface problem on the cornea, such as a flattening or bulging can put the retinal focusing out of whack so that you get a blurred vision regardless of your distance from what you are looking at. This effectively described astigmatism, a medical eye disorder rooted in the Greek words “a" for "without" and "stigma" for "point or spot." That means a condition where there is focus point achieved so that any object perceived registers a blurred.

In a normal eye, the cornea is shaped spherically, while in the extreme case of astigmatism, the corneal surface becomes toric or shaped like the ends of a football.  Any corneal surface aberration in between will result in astigmatic vision. There’s also regular and irregular astigmatism. In the former, the corneal deformation can be symmetric to result in two different meridians located 90% apart that create different focus points to blur the vision.  In the latter, the deformation is irregular where the meridians are apart other than 90 degrees.


Astigmatism is essentially an anatomical aberration that has few natural causes other than aging. A genetic predisposition to develop the condition has been observed among families with astigmatism in older generations or relatives. A bout with chalazion where a large lump grows on the eyelid could press against the corneal surface to deform its shape and cause astigmatism.  Treat the chalazion and you should be able to restore normal vision. An injury to the eye that can scar the cornea or a disease called keratoconus can cause irregular astigmatism. The condition is also often associated with myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia.

Astigmatism Symptoms

A person with astigmatism has blurred vision and cannot discern details regardless of his or her distance from the object of vision. The severity varies across people but it  often gets progressive as people age.  The inability to get your eye to make a refractory focus to the retinal plane gives rise to the condition.  Most people have mild astigmatism and don’t know they do because no symptoms are felt.  But those with blurred vision, uncorrected astigmatism can case eye fatigue, squinting and  eye strain as you labor to decipher details, along with headaches and image distortion in all distances in severe cases. It is not uncommon for the condition to lead to migraine headaches.

Exams and Tests

Diagnosing  astigmatism is easily done  in a routine course eye examination as part of the usual regular medical check-up or a from an ophthalmologist’s clinic if you suspect one.  It can be detected by check your response to refractive lenses or using a keratometer to measure the thickness of your cornea and a topographer to measure the curvature of your corneal surface.

Treating Astigmatism

Many people go about their chores not knowing they have mild astigmatism since none of the known symptoms appear.  But for regular astigmatism where blurred vision occur,  the astigmatism can be corrected (though not cured) satisfactorily with the use of the right eyeglasses or contact lenses. Astigmatism can also happen with myopia or hyperopia and the same solution can be applied.  If the astigmatism is cased by a high degree of corneal curvature aberrations, eyeglasses or contact lenses may not satisfactorily correct the vision problems and a modern refractive surgery may be your best option to reduce or cure the astigmatism.  The surgery uses laser technology to reshape the corneal surface of the eye with a high level of satisfaction rating among those you have undergone one.  It is an outpatient procedure and only local anesthesia is used. 


Patients undergoing refractive surgery enjoy high success rates above 90% that their astigmatism has been cured or greatly minimized.  But outside of surgery, you can expect mild astigmatism diagnosed in early adult years to worsen at you age.  For a vast majority, the condition may not improve after age 25 despite the use of corrective contacts or eyeglasses.


The condition, along with nearsightedness and farsightedness can hardly be prevented, but astigmatism caused by a trauma to the cornea or contacting infection to the eyes that cause the condition can be prevented to some extent with reasoned and sensible attention and care to your eyes.  A simple thing like ensuring your hands are clean before touching your eyes can prevent eye infections.