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What is astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a common problem. Many people may have slight variations in the shape of their cornea or lens that do not cause problems with their eyesight. In others, however, these structures are shaped in ways that distort the light that enters the eye. The cornea usually is smooth and rounded, like the surface of a ping-pong ball that is cut in half. A person with astigmatism may have a cornea that is curved more like the top of a football, or the cornea may have peaks and valleys on its surface, instead of a smooth, rounded covering, and that too will distort vision.

No one is sure what causes astigmatism. It usually is present at birth and often is found in several members of the same family. This means that in some cases the trait is inherited, like hair color and eye color.

What are symptoms of astigmatism?

  • Headaches

  • Eyestrain

  • Squinting

  • Distorted or blurred vision at all distances

  • Difficulty driving at night

What are the treatments for astigmatism?

Astigmatism can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery. Refractive surgery is the most permanent option, which treats it by permanently changing the shape of the cornea.