Astigmatism is a condition where vision is disordered (blurred, unfocused, fuzzy) because the cornea (the front surface of the eye) or lens, which is located behind the cornea, has an abnormal or irregular curve (misshaped). Astigmatism can occur in children as well as adults. Astigmatism is fairly common and not contagious.
There are two common types of astigmatism: corneal astigmatism and lenticular astigmatism.
Normal Anatomy of the Eye
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The precise cause of astigmatism is unknown. It is often present at birth and may coexist with nearsightedness or farsightedness. Sometimes it may occur after an injury or eye surgery.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
The following factors increase your chances of developing astigmatism. If you have any of these risk factors, tell your doctor:
The symptoms for astigmatism vary from person-to-person. Some people might be asymptomatic (showing no signs of the condition) while others are symptomatic (showing signs of the condition). If you experience any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to astigmatism. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your physician.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. You may also be referred to a doctor who specializes in the medical and surgical treatment of eye disorders and vision measurements (ophthalmologists) or a trained and licensed professional who can diagnosis vision and eye disease and prescribe corrective lenses (optometrist). Tests may include the following:
There are several treatment options for astigmatism. If you suspect you have astigmatism, contact your doctor.Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
Corrective lenses, such as glasses or toric contact lens, are prescribed to offset the eye’s visual abnormalities or defects, such as excessive nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism.
To correct severe astigmatism, an ophthalmologist might use special knives or a laser beam to correct the abnormal or irregular curve of the cornea. The surgery is an outpatient procedure (does not require a hospital stay) that is performed with local anesthesia.
There are three types of surgical procedures that an ophthalmologist might perform:
There are risk factors associated with all surgery. To choose the best surgical treatment option for your condition, it is important that you speak with your doctor about potential risks and side effects.
There are no known preventative measures that will reduce your chances of getting astigmatism. However, routinely getting a comprehensive vision exam will reduce your chances of astigmatism going undetected (unidentified) and untreated.
American Optometric Association
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Prevent Blindness America
Canadian Ophthalmological Society
The Canadian National Institute for the Blind
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Last reviewed June 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 06/30/2013