Maybe you’ve heard the word “astigmatism” in passing or on a visit to the optometrist. You might have seen memes discussing what people with astigmatism see, or heard friends talking about how they have one. Misinformation abounds regarding this simple, yet confusing condition, and you may wonder if you have it – and if it can be treated.

What is Astigmatism?

Imagine that the normal eye has a spherical shape. It is evenly rounded on all sides, like a ping-pong. This allows light to come in through the cornea and lens of your eye, and focus that light on the retina.

With astigmatism, the eye is not a sphere. It has a shape more like an egg, or a football. The cornea and lens focus the light not on the retina, but in front of it or behind it, so objects appear blurry.

There are two main types of differences in eye shape:

  • Vertical – The eye has more height than width.
  • Horizontal – The eye has more width than height.

What Causes Astigmatism?

At its most basic, this condition exists when the cornea or lens are not in the normal shape. Doctors don’t have an answer for why everyone’s corneas and lenses have varied shapes, though they do know astigmatism passes down through families. They also know that sitting too close to the television and reading with inadequate light don’t cause the condition, much to the consternation of exasperated parents everywhere.

You can also get this condition from certain circumstances, such as:

How is Astigmatism Corrected?

Correcting this condition is usually as simple as glasses or contact lenses. Some people may also be eligible for surgeries such as the popular LASIK surgery to correct your vision.

How Can I Tell if I Have Astigmatism?

This condition most often manifests as blurry vision, either with objects near to you or in the distance. Other symptoms can include:

  • Areas of distorted vision
  • Eye discomfort
  • Squinting to clarify your vision
  • Eye strain
  • Headaches

The best way to tell if you have astigmatism is to schedule an exam with a vision professional. Contact Valley Eyecare Center today at (602) 955-2700 to learn more about your vision!