What is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a common eye condition where both close and distant objects appear blurry. This is due to the irregular shape of the cornea or the curvature of the lens inside the eye.

What Causes Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is caused by an irregular-shaped cornea or lens. In an eye with astigmatism, light fails to come to a single focus on the retina. Instead, light focuses on multiple points, either in front of the retina or behind it (or both), causing vision to become blurry.

What are the Symptoms of Astigmatism?

The most noticeable symptoms of astigmatism are blurred vision or vision distortion

  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Squinting while trying to read
  • Increased difficulty driving at night

If these symptoms begin to interfere with your daily routine or are present to the point of causing pain, we recommend you to book an appointment with a LASERSIGHT Consultant Optometrist .


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How will a LASERSIGHT Doctor Diagnose Astigmatism?

Your LASERSIGHT doctor will be able to diagnose astigmatism by conducting a comprehensive eye examination, and eye test involving an eye chart.

Quick Tip: A general eye check-up is recommended once every two years for people over 45 years of age.

What are the Risk Factors of Astigmatism?

Risk factors include:

  • Genetics
  • Existing refractive errors (myopia & hyperopia)

If these symptoms begin to interfere with your daily routine or are present to the point of causing pain, we recommend you to book an appointment with a LASERSIGHT Consultant Optometrist.

How do I Prevent the Onset of Astigmatism?

Astigmatism occurs due to the irregular shape of the cornea and not external factors. Regular eye assessments following the diagnosis should be arranged as changes in eyewear prescription may be necessary over time, to ensure quality vision. Laser eye surgery can be performed if your prescription is stable for 12 months.

What are the Long Term Implications of Astigmatism?

As the major cause of Astigmatism is genetics, astigmatism is a lifelong condition unless you correct the condition with refractive surgery.

The long term implications of astigmatism if you don't receive refractive surgery is that astigmatism may worsen over time, increasing your risk of developing keratoconus.

Keratoconus is a condition where the cornea becomes progressively thinner. In this case, you will be at risk of needing a corneal transplant.

What are the Treatment Options for Astigmatism?

There are several different types of refractive laser eye surgeries that can help improve or correct astigmatism. Depending on the type of astigmatism you have and your personal characteristics, the best eye treatment option may vary patient to patient.

1st Generation PRK

PRK was the first type of refractive surgery for vision correction, developed prior to LASIK. Whilst PRK can be associated with slightly more discomfort and longer convalescence than LASIK, it causes less thinning of the cornea and thus is recommended for some patients with astigmatism.

2nd Generation LASIK

LASIK is the most common type of laser vision correction procedure worldwide. This two-step procedure involves the eye surgeon creating a flap on the cornea and using laser to reshape the curvature of the cornea, to correct different types of astigmatism.

2nd Generation Femto-LASIK

Femto-LASIK is similar to conventional LASIK, except it uses an extremely accurate computer driven femtosecond laser to correct refractive errors like astigmatism. Femto-LASIK provides superior safety and accuracy, enabling more people to be eligible for surgery and offers greater stability to the cornea in the long term.

3rd Generation SMILE®

Whereas traditional LASIK and Femto-LASIK procedures rely on the creation of a corneal flap, SMILE® is the first minimally invasive and flapless procedure for the treatment of astigmatism. As a 3rd generation advancement in laser eye surgery, SMILE benefits patients with thin corneas, dry eyes, contact lens intolerance and those who were previously unsuitable for LASIK.

For patients who aren't suitable for laser eye surgery, other eye treatment options for astigmatism include Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL) and Intraocular Lens (IOL).

However, no two eyes are the same and so a careful assessment by a qualified Eye Surgeon will help determine what's best for you.

Frequently asked questions

What is refraction?

Refraction is the process of light bending as it moves through one object to another. Vision is the result of light rays that are bending, or refracting, as they pass through your cornea and lens. The light is then focused on the retina which turns the light rays into signals for the brain, which in turn creates vision.

Can You Suffer from Astigmatism and Not Realise?

It may be possible to experience mild astigmatism and not realise. This is often the case for children who do not have the experience of sight to differentiate between healthy vision and astigmatism. Some adults may also have mild astigmatism with minimal symptoms but it is important to have comprehensive eye examinations regularly to ensure you are seeing the world at its clearest.

Is Astigmatism an Eye Disease?

Along with short-sightedness and long-sightedness, Astigmatism is a refractive vision error, not an eye disease or health problem. It is simply a problem with the way your eyes focus light, and is more closely associated to the way some eyes are set up rather than external influences.

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Just like a fingerprint, no two eyes are the same. That's why the optimal visual result for your eyes can only be achieved if your eyes are examined, measured and treated uniquely and individually.