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Astigmatism

Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, Questions & Related Topics

Key Points

  • Astigmatism is an eye condition that can lead to blurry vision, squinting, eye strain, and headaches, and can affect one or both eyes.
  • It can develop at any stage of life due to factors like birth abnormalities, eye injuries, surgeries, or a rare condition called keratoconus.
  • Preventing astigmatism involves regular eye check-ups and taking measures to avoid eye injuries.
  • Depending on the severity, treatment options for astigmatism range from no treatment at all for mild cases to glasses, contact lenses, refractive surgery, or even cornea transplants for more severe cases.
  • Regular visits to an eye doctor are vital for effective diagnosis and management of astigmatism.

Possible Symptoms for Astigmatism

1. Blurry Vision

Astigmatism, a type of refractive error in the eye, causes varying symptoms in individuals, but the most common is fuzzy or blurry vision no matter how far away the object is.[1] Other refractive eye errors like farsightedness and nearsightedness can cause problems seeing up close or far away, respectively. Astigmatism can occur in one eye or both.

2. Squinting

You may not notice that you have astigmatism in one or both eyes, but looking for certain behaviors in yourself or your child can help you recognize the symptoms. For example, astigmatism often causes squinting because you’re trying to see something up close or far away.[2]

3. Eye Problems

Various eye problems might start to occur as a result of your astigmatism. For example, you may have trouble with eye strain because you are trying to force your eyes to see something they can’t. Your eyes may become irritated easily because they are working overtime, and you will also have problems seeing things at night, whether the objects are near or far away.

4. Headaches

The eye strain, squinting, and other issues associated with astigmatism are likely to lead to consistent headaches. Having more headaches than usual and more difficulty concentrating may be signs of astigmatism.

Top 5 Causes of Astigmatism

1. Birth

It is very common for astigmatism to appear at birth, and this is usually caused by the surface of the cornea being differently shaped than normal.[3] Precisely why this happens, however, is still unknown.

2. Development

Astigmatism can often develop on its own over time, in both children and in adults.[4] The reasons for this are also unknown. Notions that reading in low light or sitting too close to a TV can cause the development of astigmatism are false.[5]

3. Injury

In some cases, a person who didn’t have astigmatism can develop it as the result of an eye injury, including being hit or scratched in the eye.

4. Surgery

One of the possible side effects of eye surgery is astigmatism. Of course, this doesn’t keep people from receiving necessary eye surgery, as the condition is very common, could have developed on its own, and is easy to treat.

5. Keratoconus

Keratoconus is a rare condition that causes the cornea to become cone-shaped and thinner over time. This can cause severe astigmatism, which can usually be corrected through contact lenses. However, more drastic measures may be necessary.

2 Ways to Prevent Astigmatism

1. Avoid Eye Injuries

It’s always important to avoid injuring the eyes. When you are playing sports, it’s a good idea to wear goggles so that you won’t get poked in the eye or experience some other eye trauma. Protecting your eyes from the sun, especially if you live in a sunny climate, is also a good idea. Wearing sunglasses and a wide-brim hat outside can help.

2. See Your Eye Doctor

Even if you protect your eyes from injury, astigmatism can still develop. Thus, making regular appointments with your eye doctor and seeking treatment if you ever experience the symptoms of astigmatism is a good idea. Your doctor should be able to tell you if you have developed astigmatism, so make sure you make an appointment at least once a year to have your eyes checked.

Possible Astigmatism Treatment Options

1. Nothing

Sometimes, astigmatism is so mild that no treatment is needed. However, you still need to see your eye doctor in order to find out if your astigmatism needs some sort of corrective treatment or not.[5]

2. Lenses

Glasses or contact lenses are the most common treatments for astigmatism. They usually are the best option as well for those who have trouble seeing for another reason. Certain types of soft contact lenses, also known as toric lenses, work best for people with astigmatism in one or both eyes.[5]

3. Refractive Surgery

Refractive surgery could be helpful if you have severe symptoms or do not want to wear glasses or contacts. The surgery changes the shape of your cornea to correct astigmatism permanently. If you don’t have any other retina problems, corneal scars, or other eye issues, refractive surgery could be effective for you.

4. Cornea Transplant

This is only appropriate in the case of keratoconus that creates severe vision problems for which contact lenses are no longer helpful.[3] However, this treatment option is rare for astigmatism. In most cases, glasses or contact lenses will be appropriate.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Astigmatism

  • Do you experience symptoms all the time or just sometimes?
  • When did you first notice you were having trouble seeing?
  • Do you have trouble seeing at night?
  • Does anything you’ve tried relieve your symptoms? If so, what?
  • How severe are your symptoms?

Astigmatism May Also be Known as:

  • Astigmia

References

Frequently asked questions

  • What is astigmatism?

    Astigmatism is a refractive error in the eye that can cause symptoms like blurry vision, squinting, eye strain, and headaches.
  • What causes astigmatism?

    Astigmatism can be caused by birth abnormalities, natural development, eye injuries, eye surgeries, and a rare condition called keratoconus.
  • How can I prevent astigmatism?

    Preventing astigmatism involves taking measures to avoid eye injuries and having regular eye check-ups to monitor eye health.
  • What are the treatment options for astigmatism?

    Treatment options for astigmatism depend on its severity. Mild cases may not require treatment, while others may need glasses, contact lenses, refractive surgery, or in rare cases, a cornea transplant.
  • Can astigmatism develop at any age?

    Yes, astigmatism can develop at any age.
  • Can astigmatism affect both eyes?

    Yes, astigmatism can affect one or both eyes.
  • How often should I see an eye doctor if I have astigmatism?

    Regular appointments with an eye doctor are crucial to diagnose and manage astigmatism effectively. The frequency of visits may vary depending on the severity of your condition.
  • Are there any serious complications associated with astigmatism?

    In most cases, astigmatism is a manageable condition. However, in rare cases, severe astigmatism may require a cornea transplant.

Related Health Concerns

Cataract Surgery

Color Blindness

Detached Retina

Double Vision

Eye Exam

Eye Pain

Facial Pain

Farsightedness

HIV

Itchy Eyes

Keratoconus

Macular Degeneration

Migraines

Strep Throat

Tooth Extraction

Tunnel Vision

Uveitis

Vision Loss

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