Common Signs & Symptoms of Astigmatism

Corneal astigmatism impacts almost 50% of everyone who wears glasses or contact lenses in the UK.

Causing headaches, blurry vision, and other side effects and symptoms, astigmatism is a common refractive error impacting how light rays enter the eye. 

Focus Clinics is committed to providing valuable insights that contribute to clearer and more focused vision, enabling patients to make the best decisions about their eye health.

Understanding the cause of astigmatism symptoms and recognising the signs are vital steps in moving on from vision problems and being able to see clearly.

What Causes Astigmatism?

Astigmatism occurs typically when the shape of the cornea is asymmetrical rather than perfectly round as it should be. As opposed to a normal eye (the shape of a football), the affected eye is more of a rugby ball (or an American football, if you prefer!). 

This egg-shape of the cornea or lens leads to light rays being focused at several points on the retina rather than a singular point to produce the clearest possible vision. 

Astigmatism is notable for blurry vision affecting both close-up and distant objects.

There are several factors contributing to astigmatism. Genetic predisposition or other refractive errors may play a role, as could an eye injury leading to a change in the shape of the cornea or lens.

An eye disease or condition such as keratoconus, in which the cornea or lens progressively thins and bulges outward, is thought to be a contributing factor, too.

Furthermore, specific individuals may be born with astigmatism and find it worsens throughout adolescence as the body grows.

While the exact cause can vary, understanding astigmatism's potential contributing factors helps spot the symptoms more effectively. It can impact the type of treatments for astigmatism available to patients.

Common Astigmatism Symptoms

The symptoms can vary depending on whether it is mild or severe astigmatism. Usually, the most common impacts of astigmatism are as follows:

  • Blurred vision/distorted vision
  • Eye strain/tired eyes
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Vision problems in low light
  • Squinting
  • Having blurred vision for close-up and distant objects
  • A lazy eye (if astigmatism is present in only one eye, meaning vision did not develop properly)
  • Other refractive errors, such as myopia and hyperopia

Though it is guilty of leaving your vision blurry, there is no link between astigmatism and vision loss or blindness. People with astigmatism can enjoy clear vision with the help of various treatments.

If astigmatism presents only mild symptoms, or if a child is developing a refractive error, the signs may not be obvious. This is why it is vital to undergo regular eye exams.

How We Diagnose Astigmatism

The only person who can diagnose astigmatism is your eye doctor, who will perform a comprehensive eye exam, refraction test, or visual acuity test to determine how your eye is bending and focusing light rays. 

Your clinician will determine the type of refractive error (or refractive errors) causing your symptoms and recommend your best treatment option to give clear vision.

How Can We Treat Astigmatism Symptoms?

Astigmatism caused by an asymmetric curvature of the lens or cornea can be treated effectively through different corrective measures.

Glasses or Contact Lenses

The most traditional method of treating astigmatism is the use of prescription eyeglasses. These corrective lenses help the eye focus all light rays directly onto the retina at a single focus point.

Contact lenses are another popular option for astigmatism correction. 

Toric lenses, for example, are designed to address uneven curvature and provide vision correction for those unwilling to wear glasses. However, they are prone to rotation with blinking, causing an intermittent fluctuation in vision. 

This is a common reason why patients discontinue use of contact lenses. In fact, 25% of patients abandon contacts during the first year of trying them.

Contact lenses also come with the risk of eye infection caused by poor hygiene. In contrast, many patients find eyeglasses negatively impact anything from their peripheral vision to their self-esteem.

Whilst contact lenses or glasses can offer varying levels of temporary relief, they do not treat the underlying causes of why astigmatism occurs in the first place. 

Laser Eye Surgery

Corrective lenses have long been the only method of treating astigmatism. However, laser eye surgery has quickly become one of the most significant vision correction measures in permanence and effectiveness. 

With more than 30 years of successful commercial surgeries performed worldwide, laser eye surgery is proven to treat the symptoms of astigmatism and its underlying causes. 

Laser surgery is a transformative option for individuals seeking a permanent solution to their refractive errors.

After using a femtosecond laser to create a thin flap in the cornea, the second WaveLight excimer laser reshapes the cornea. It corrects the refractive error by removing a very thin layer of tissue. 

LASIK can be completed in 5-7 minutes per eye.

How to Cure Astigmatism Symptoms and Improve Vision: Focus Clinics' 100% Success Rate

Astigmatism causes nearby and also distant objects to be distorted. Any underlying refractive error, such as myopia or hyperopia (short and long sight), worsens this.

Astigmatism often means a reliance on corrective lenses for life unless you decide that LASIK is right for you.

At Focus Clinics, we have almost 70 years of combined experience in the refractive surgery field and over 60,000 successful procedures under our collective belt. 

With a 100% success rate and the number one spot on Trustpilot, you can be assured of the safety and quality of our work. 

We know of no other clinic able to match our vision results. The vast majority of our patients see even better than 20/20 after treatment with us.

With a free initial consultation to put to rest any queries or concerns you may have, you can find out whether LASIK is suitable for you. Book a free appointment today, and move towards clearer vision and a life without corrective lenses.

About the Author

Mr David Allamby is the founder and medical director of Focus Clinic - the leading provider of laser eye surgery in London. Focus’ commitment is to be the #1 clinic for vision outcome results with 100% of patients achieving 20/20 vision or even better. He is one of a limited number of UK surgeons who work in laser refractive surgery full-time.

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