what is astigmatism

Astigmatism is a common eye condition known as a refractive error, where the cornea (the front part of the eye) is shaped more like a rugby ball rather than being symmetrical like a tennis ball. The name literally means ‘the lack of a point focus’, and it is this irregularity in the eye’s shape that causes the light entering it to bend more in one direction than the other.

What causes astigmatism?

Astigmatism is usually present from birth, but it can develop over time as a normal variation accompanying growth or after an eye injury. It is the cornea’s asymmetrical shape that affects the way light passes, or refracts, to your retina causing blurry or distorted vision.

Astigmatism signs & symptoms

The degree of astigmatism experienced by people can vary in severity. Symptoms include:

  • dry, tired eyes
  • eyestrain and headaches after prolonged visual tasks
  • reduced concentration
  • difficulty reading and focusing
  • difficulty seeing at night
  • squinting
  • distorted and blurry vision, up close and far away.

Can astigmatism be treated?


  • Astigmatism is easily corrected with prescription eyewear such as corrective lenses or contact lenses.
  • Orthokeratology is also used in the correction of the condition, using rigid contact lenses worn overnight to reshape the cornea.
  • Laser eye surgery is also an option for those eligible.

Contact lenses for astigmatism

The good news is that you don’t have to wear glasses to achieve crisp, comfortable vision. Today’s generation of contact lenses offer people with astigmatism greater freedom and flexibility. Contact lenses for the condition are also known as toric lenses. They are available in daily wear, two weekly and monthly replacement options, as well as flexible wear enabling up to 29 nights continuous wear (subject to clinical advice). These lenses are designed to not only improve vision, but are also made to fit unique eye shapes and most importantly, to provide greater stability than traditional contact lenses. When you move your eyes or blink, your contact lenses won’t move, ensuring you maintain perfect vision.

Astigmatism in children

Because the condition can be present at birth, it’s especially important to have your child’s eyes tested before they start school. Did you know that vision is responsible for around 80% of all learning in a child’s first 12 years^? Children also assume their vision is just like everyone else’s, which means that vision problems like astigmatism can easily go undetected.

Are you or your children due for an eye test?

Having a regular comprehensive eye examination is the best way to pick up any changes in your vision, such as an astigmatism. One of the perks of seeing an independently-owned optometrist in our community is that they will take the time to do a thorough examination of your eye health and the way you use your eyes in everyday life. This enables them to monitor the health of your eyes over your lifetime to detect any issues early.

Find your nearest optometrist now
^Vision Council of America, Making the Grade, 2009.

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