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A common eye condition that can cause blurred vision

Astigmatism is a common eye problem that occurs when the shape of the lens or cornea that covers the front surface of the eye is more curved than normal. A normal eye is rounded like a tennis ball, whereas in someone with astigmatism, the lens or cornea is oval like a rugby ball.

Astigmatism is a type of refractive error that affects the way light passes (refracts) through your eye to your retina. Normally, light enters the eye and bends evenly around it, but if you have astigmatism, the light bends unevenly, resulting in blurred and distorted vision.

Call or book online today to arrange a consultation to discuss private astigmatism treatment with a consultant of your choice at Circle Health Group.

Symptoms of astigmatism can be mild, or they can be severe enough to impact your quality of life and impair your ability to perform certain tasks.

Symptoms may include:

  • Blurred long and short-distance vision
  • Headaches
  • Strained eyes
  • Poor night vision
  • Difficulty driving at night
  • Squinting when trying to focus

Astigmatism may be present from birth and often runs in families. The condition can also develop later in life due to eye surgery, injury or disease. Reading in low light and sitting too close to the television does not cause astigmatism.

Some risk factors for astigmatism include:

  • Family history of astigmatism or other eye diseases
  • Excessive short-sightedness (where close-up objects appear blurred)
  • Excessive long-sightedness (where far away objects appear blurred)
  • Some types of eye surgery
  • Scarring or thinning of the cornea
  • Keratoconus, a condition where there is degeneration of the cornea

If you have any of the symptoms described above, the best place to start is with your GP. Your GP can run some tests to check for other health conditions that may explain your symptoms. If they suspect astigmatism or another eye condition, they will refer you to a specialist eye doctor called an ophthalmologist. Your ophthalmologist will perform a full eye examination to determine the cause of your symptoms.

Children are often unaware that their vision is blurred and astigmatism in children is commonly diagnosed during a routine eye exam. Take your child to an eye doctor if they are complaining of headaches, rub their eyes a lot, or squint when trying to focus on objects.

Mild astigmatism may not need to be treated, but if your symptoms are negatively impacting your life, you may consider treatment. Treatment for astigmatism can be non-surgical or surgical.

Non-surgical treatments

Most cases of mild astigmatism can be corrected with prescription glasses or contact lenses. They work by counteracting the abnormal curve of the eye and correcting your vision. Soft and hard contact lenses are available to correct astigmatism.

Surgical treatments

If your astigmatism is severe, or if glasses or contact lenses aren't a suitable option for you, your consultant may recommend laser eye surgery to permanently correct your astigmatism.

During surgery, your consultant uses a laser or scalpel to reshape your cornea.

At your initial consultation, you will be seen by a consultant ophthalmologist, a doctor specialising in conditions affecting the eyes. Your consultant will ask you about your symptoms and general health as well as any past eye conditions or surgeries.

To make a diagnosis, your consultant will perform an extensive eye examination and tests including:

  • Visual acuity assessment test (eye chart) — you will be asked to read letters on a chart from a distance away to check how well you can see from a set distance
  • Phoropter — a variety of lenses are placed over your eyes to see which gives you the most accurate vision
  • Refraction test — this is used to measure your astigmatism and works by shining a light into your eye and measuring the light reflected back by your retina
  • Keratometry — your consultant measures the curve of your cornea using a device called a keratometer

At the end of your appointment, your consultant will explain your diagnosis and recommend a suitable treatment based on your diagnosis and preferences.

We answer your most commonly asked questions about astigmatism.

What can cause astigmatism to get worse?

Astigmatism commonly gets worse with age, particularly after the age of 50. The condition is more likely to worsen if you have other refractive errors like short-sightedness, long-sightedness, presbyopia (age-related sight reduction), or other eye conditions like keratoconus.

Can astigmatism be cured?

Laser eye surgery to correct the shape of the cornea effectively cures astigmatism. As with all types of surgery, there is a small risk of complications. Make sure to discuss all the possible risks and complications with your consultant to ensure you are fully informed before deciding on surgery.

What does astigmatism look like?

The most common symptom of astigmatism is blurred vision both close up and at a distance. People with the condition may also experience excessive glare from lights which can make night driving difficult.

Is astigmatism genetic?

There appears to be a strong genetic component in astigmatism and the condition tends to run in families. Sometimes astigmatism can occur later in life due to eye conditions, eye injury or surgery.

Can astigmatism go away without treatment?

No. Astigmatism will not go away on its own and tends to get worse with age.

How common is astigmatism?

Astigmatism is extremely common and is estimated to affect one in three people worldwide.

At Circle Health Group we have the experience and expertise to ensure the best possible care and outcome for our patients. As a patient with Circle Health Group, you can expect the highest standards of care including:

  • Flexible appointment times and locations that are convenient for you
  • The freedom to choose which hospital and consultant suit your needs
  • Personalised, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Comfortable and safe private facilities maintained by expert multidisciplinary teams
  • Private ensuite rooms as standard
  • A range of delicious healthy meals
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help you spread the cost of your care

If you would like to see a consultant or learn more about astigmatism treatment, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in March 2023. Next review due March 2026.

  1. What Is Astigmatism? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, American Academy of Ophthalmology
  2. Astigmatism, NIH National Eye Institute
  3. Astigmatism, Mayo Clinic

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