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What Is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a common refractive error that occurs when the cornea or the lens of the eye has an irregular shape, leading to distorted or blurred vision. Unlike nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia), where the eye’s shape is more spherical, astigmatism is characterized by an oval or football-shaped curvature of the cornea or lens. This irregularity causes light entering the eye to focus on more than one point on the retina, resulting in distorted images at various distances. Most people who have astigmatism have symptoms of ghosting or doubling of images.

Astigmatism FAQs

What is astigmatism?

Astigmatism occurs when your cornea is oval or football-shaped, with two different curvatures. Images appear blurry or stretched because light rays are unequally focused. In extreme cases, images both close-up and in the distance appear blurred. Many people who have nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia) also have astigmatism.

How do I know if I have astigmatism?

Astigmatism usually is combined with nearsightedness or farsightedness. If you wear glasses or contacts for all distances, you may have astigmatism. It is best diagnosed by your eye doctor during your annual eye exam.

What causes astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a genetic condition that typically increases through your teens, but usually stabilizes in your twenties or thirties. There are several factors that can contribute to its development:

  1. Corneal Shape: Most cases of astigmatism are related to irregularities in the shape of the cornea, the clear front surface of the eye. Instead of being perfectly curved, the cornea may have a more oblong shape, which can cause light to scatter and create blurred vision.
  2. Lens Shape: In some cases, astigmatism may be caused by irregularities in the shape of the eye’s crystalline lens, which is located just behind the iris. Changes in the lens shape can also lead to astigmatism.
  3. Genetics: Astigmatism often has a genetic component. If your parents or other close relatives have astigmatism, you may be at a higher risk of developing it.
  4. Eye Injuries: Trauma to the eye, such as injuries that affect the shape of the cornea or lens, can lead to astigmatism.
  5. Eye Conditions: Certain eye conditions, such as keratoconus (a progressive thinning and bulging of the cornea) or scarring of the cornea due to infection or injury, can cause irregular corneal shape and astigmatism.
  6. Changes with Age: Some individuals may develop astigmatism as they age, especially if their corneas or lenses change shape over time.

It’s important to note that astigmatism is a common vision problem and can often be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery, such as LASIK or PRK. An eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist can diagnose astigmatism and determine the degree and type of astigmatism you have. If you experience blurred or distorted vision, it’s advisable to consult an eye care professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment options.

I have astigmatism. Does this mean I am not a candidate for laser vision correction?

Having astigmatism does not necessarily disqualify you from laser vision correction, including procedures like LASIK or PRK. In fact, many individuals with astigmatism have successfully undergone these surgeries and experienced improved vision. The decision to pursue laser vision correction will depend on several factors, including the severity of your astigmatism, the overall health of your eyes, and other individual considerations.

Here are key points to consider:

  1. Severity of Astigmatism: Modern laser vision correction techniques are capable of addressing a range of astigmatism. The suitability for surgery often depends on the degree of astigmatism present. Your eye care professional will assess this during a comprehensive eye examination.
  2. Corneal Thickness: LASIK, in particular, involves reshaping the cornea. The thickness of your cornea is an important factor in determining whether you are a candidate for LASIK. Thinner corneas may make other procedures like PRK more suitable.
  3. Overall Eye Health: Your eye care professional will evaluate the overall health of your eyes to ensure that you are a good candidate for surgery. Conditions such as dry eye, cataracts, or other eye diseases may impact the decision.
  4. Expectations and Lifestyle: Your lifestyle and visual expectations play a role. It’s important to discuss your goals with your eye care professional to determine the most appropriate treatment plan.
  5. Advanced Technologies: Advancements in laser technology have expanded the range of treatable astigmatism. Some individuals with higher degrees of astigmatism may still be eligible for laser vision correction using newer techniques and technologies.

Before deciding on laser vision correction, schedule a consultation with an experienced NVISION eye doctor today.

Is astigmatism common?

Yes, astigmatism is a relatively common vision condition.  It is especially common with those eye patients with higher degrees of nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia).

It is estimated that a significant portion of the population has some degree of astigmatism. The prevalence of astigmatism can vary by age, with some studies suggesting that it becomes more common as people get older. It can also vary among different ethnic and demographic groups.

Astigmatism can range from mild to severe, and many people with mild astigmatism may not even be aware that they have the condition because their vision remains relatively clear. However, as astigmatism becomes more pronounced, it can cause blurred or distorted vision, and individuals may notice symptoms such as difficulty reading or seeing objects at a distance.

Fortunately, astigmatism can be easily diagnosed during a comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Once diagnosed, it can often be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses specifically designed to address the irregular curvature of the cornea or lens.

In some cases, people with astigmatism may choose to undergo refractive surgery, such as LASIK or PRK, to permanently correct their vision. These surgical procedures reshape the cornea to eliminate or reduce astigmatism and are highly effective in improving visual clarity.

Overall, astigmatism is a common vision condition, but with proper diagnosis and treatment, individuals with astigmatism can enjoy clear and comfortable vision.

Can Astigmatism Go Away?

Astigmatism is typically caused by the irregular shape of the cornea or lens in the eye, and it is often a result of genetic factors. While the shape of the cornea can change during childhood and adolescence, once the eye has fully developed, changes in corneal shape that lead to astigmatism are less likely to occur on their own.

In some cases, astigmatism may be associated with certain eye conditions or diseases, such as keratoconus, where the cornea becomes progressively thinner and more conical in shape. In these cases, the astigmatism may change over time, and management strategies may include special contact lenses or surgical interventions.

Generally, for the majority of people with common, non-progressive astigmatism, it doesn’t go away on its own. However, the symptoms of astigmatism can be effectively corrected using eyeglasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery.

Regular eye examinations are important to monitor any changes in your vision and to ensure that your astigmatism is appropriately managed. If you suspect changes in your vision or experience discomfort, it’s advisable to consult with an eye care professional for a comprehensive eye examination.

How to Fix Astigmatism

Astigmatism can be effectively corrected through various methods, depending on the severity of the condition and individual preferences. Here are common ways to address astigmatism:

1. Prescription Glasses:
– Eyeglasses with cylindrical lenses are the most common and non-invasive way to correct astigmatism. These lenses have different powers in different meridians to counteract the irregular shape of the cornea or lens.

2. Contact Lenses:
– Toric contact lenses are specifically designed to correct astigmatism. They provide a stable position on the eye to ensure the correction aligns with the irregular curvature.

3. Refractive Surgery:
– Laser vision correction surgeries, such as LASIK eye surgery or PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy), can reshape the cornea to correct astigmatism. These surgeries are suitable for many individuals with astigmatism, but candidacy depends on factors like the degree of astigmatism and overall eye health.

4. Toric Intraocular Lenses (IOLs):
– For individuals undergoing cataract surgery or refractive lens exchange, toric IOLs can be implanted to correct astigmatism. These specialized lenses address both the cataract and the astigmatism simultaneously.

5. Orthokeratology (Ortho-K):
– Ortho-K involves wearing specially designed gas-permeable contact lenses overnight. These lenses temporarily reshape the cornea, providing clear vision during the day. Ortho-K is often used for mild to moderate astigmatism.

6. Combination Correction:
– In some cases, a combination of approaches may be used, such as using glasses for certain activities and contact lenses for others.

It’s essential to consult with an eye care professional for a comprehensive eye examination to determine the most suitable correction method for your specific case. The choice of correction will depend on factors like the degree of astigmatism, overall eye health, lifestyle, and personal preferences. Regular eye check-ups are important to monitor any changes in your vision and ensure that your astigmatism is effectively managed.

Treatment For Astigmatism

For your eyes only.

Your NVISION surgeon is best suited to recommend the treatment for your individual needs.

Why Choose NVISION for Eye Care Needs?

Our Experience

Our board-certified surgeons are the most experienced, educated and caring professionals in the eye care industry. Our surgeons have performed over 2,500,000 procedures. More eye doctors have had their surgery performed by an NVISION surgeon than any other provider of eye care.

Patient Care

Every NVISION patient is different, and therefore, we strive to personalize their treatment based on their unique needs. We treat every patient with care, compassion, empathy and professionalism with a promise to deliver the best-in-class patient care.


We utilize only the most advanced laser and diagnostic equipment available to ensure we can deliver the best outcomes for our patients.

Unparalleled Commitment

Exceptional outcomes. The gold standard in patient care. The #1 Choice of Eye Doctors®. The Vision For Life promise. That’s what makes the NVISION® experience like no other.

Why Choose NVISION:

  • Expert Eye Doctors: Our experienced surgeons at NVISION are leaders in the field of refractive surgery, ensuring precise and effective procedures.
  • State-of-the-Art Technology: We use cutting-edge technology to customize refractive surgeries, providing personalized solutions for each patient’s unique vision needs.
  • Comprehensive Care: From pre-operative evaluations to post-operative care, NVISION is committed to providing comprehensive and compassionate care at every step of your refractive surgery journey.
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