Astigmatism is a common eye condition in which you have difficulty seeing clearly at both near and far distances. People who are longsighted or shortsighted often also have astigmatism, which is a refractive error (meaning the shape of your eye does not bend light correctly), rather than an eye disease or eye health problem. People who have uncorrected astigmatism can experience eyestrain and headaches, and may feel tired at the end of the day.
Commonly asked questions
What causes astigmatism?
Astigmatism occurs due to the cornea or lens, the parts of the eye that are responsible for focusing light, having a different curvature in one direction compared to the other. If the curve of the cornea or lens is not perfectly round but is shaped more like a football, astigmatism will result and the eye will not be able to focus light accurately onto the retina (sensor layer at the back of the eye).
Can astigmatism be cured?
Properly prescribed contact lenses or glasses will make tasks much easier by improving how clearly you see and making it more comfortable for your eyes, but astigmatism cannot be cured and is often hereditary.
How can I tell if I have astigmatism and how will it affect me?
People with astigmatism may see clearly when looking at objects and may not realise they need contact lenses or glasses. It is common for people with astigmatism to have difficulty seeing clearly at all distances and they may develop eyestrain and headaches.
It’s important to have an eye examination with your optometrist who will be able to test how well you see by placing different lenses in front of your eyes, so he or she can then tell if you have astigmatism and prescribe the lenses that give you the clearest and most comfortable vision.
Contact lenses or glasses are a good option for vision correction with astigmatism. .
This article was written by Good Vision for Life, an Optometry Australia Initiative.