Astigmatism is a common and generally easily treatable defect of the eye that causes blurred vision. In a normal eye, light passes from an object that a person sees to the front surface (cornea) and through the inside (lens) of the eye. The curve of these parts of the eye refracts (bends) this light, creating one focused image for the back of the eye (retina). Astigmatism occurs when there is an abnormal curve of the cornea or lens, causing a poorly focused image. Astigmatism may occur in combination with nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia).
Symptoms of astigmatism may include blurred or distorted vision, eyestrain, and headaches. Astigmatism may be present at birth or it may develop after an eye injury, disease or surgery. Risk factors include a family history of astigmatism, excessive nearsightedness and farsightedness and a history of eye surgeries. Your eye doctor, either an optometrist or an ophthalmologist, can diagnose astigmatism through a comprehensive eye exam that evaluates your vision, curvature of your cornea and your ability to refract (bend) light properly.
Treatment of astigmatism may include eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgery. Talk with your doctor if you or someone you know has been diagnosed with astigmatism to learn more about treatment options.