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What’s Astigmatism?

Most eyes aren’t perfect. Even if you think you have 20/20 vision, it’s pretty typical to have another condition. But it could be so minor you might not even notice it. It’s called astigmatism and often goes hand-in-hand with other vision problems, like nearsightedness or farsightedness. Like these well-known vision conditions, astigmatism is very treatable.

What exactly is astigmatism? Well, in a perfectly-shaped eye, the cornea, or surface layer, is a sphere, like a baseball. It allows light to enter your eyes at the right angle and focus just so on the retina. That means your vision is sharp and crisp. But with astigmatism, the cornea’s shape is more like a football than a baseball. This irregularity makes the light rays focus on two points on the retina, not one. This causes blurry, distorted vision.

“Most people have some degree of astigmatism,” says Randall Fuerst, OD, a VSP doctor in Sacramento, California. “But if it’s mild, you may not even realize you have it.” At the other end of the scale, severe astigmatism is most definitely noticeable, causing blurred vision, headaches and sometimes eye fatigue.

Is Astigmatism Correctable?

Whether you have mild or severe astigmatism, it’s completely correctable.

For mild cases, you probably won’t need a prescription. Glasses or contact lenses are the ticket for more noticeable cases of astigmatism. “Another option is vision correction surgery,” says Dr. Fuerst, “which can work very well in correcting astigmatism.”

Your eye doctor can detect astigmatism with the same tests used for detecting farsightedness and nearsightedness. Visit your eye doctor for a routine exam and the best treatment options for you.