Shedding light on astigmatism

Imagine that upon seeing images, they look distorted, elongated or stretched. That is what a person with astigmatism sees. And it’s much more common than one can think. Did you know that about 40%1 of adults have astigmatism? But not to worry, this visual condition can easily be corrected. 

Astigmatism. A five-syllable word that also lets you score high if you’re playing scrabble! But what is it exactly?

It occurs when the cornea or the lens of the eye has an irregularly shaped curvature (imagine a football. Ok now picture a rugby ball. Tada! You get the idea.) What this does is that it prevents light from focusing evenly on your retina and which ultimately blurs your vision at all distances.2

Astignatic eye

Why does the shape of the cornea or lens vary from one person to another? It’s a mystery that eye care professionals have not yet managed to solve. What they do know, however, is that the risk of getting astigmatism is genetic. You forgot to return your parents’ last call? Here is an opportunity for you! You’re very welcome.

Astigmatism can also be caused by eye injuries, diseases or post-surgery complications. So maybe you don’t have to call them back after all.


Myths debunked

There are numerous misconceptions and myths surrounding astigmatism. You don’t need to call back anyone to know fact from fiction and find out if you’re an astigmat, we’re here to help. 

Myth 1: Astigmatism only affects adults

As mentioned earlier, most cases of astigmatism are inherited. It is thus essential for children to go for frequent eye exams, simply because children might not be able to tell if their vision is distorted. In fact, ophthalmologists can detect astigmatism as early as 1 year old, as well as myopia or hypermetropia.

Myth 2: Astigmatism worsens with screen time

Guess what? Whether it is your television, laptop, or tablet, being too close to the screen or staring at it for long periods of time will not lead to astigmatism getting worse.3 While it is not recommended to watch any size of a screen for long periods of time without eye rest, this particular activity won’t affect astigmatism as such.

Myth 3: Contact lenses cannot correct astigmatism

Like eyeglasses, contact lenses can correct most astigmatism. They are available in a variety of types and styles. Toric contact lenses are often the best choice for contact lens wearers with astigmatism, because they’re specifically designed to address the problem.

Myth 4: Astigmatism is worse at night

People with astigmatism often report that it is more difficult to see and focus at night than during the day. Yet, optometrists assert that blurry vision caused by astigmatism is the same no matter what time of day it is. However, it is true that blurry vision can become more manifest at night because of the contrast between light and dark. The reason for this is that the pupil dilates in low light to allow for more light into the eye so that we can see.

astigmatism and lights

Spot the signs

You’ll have to wait until it gets dark. Because, as we’ve seen earlier, one of the main symptoms associated with astigmatism is that you may notice that at night, lights look fuzzy, streaky or surrounded by haloes. This can be especially problematic, not to say dangerous, when driving at night since these haloes, which we call ‘glare’, around lights can be blinding and affect your visual acuity.

Other common symptoms include blurry or areas of distorted vision, eyestrain, headaches, the need to squint to try to see clearly, or visual discomfort. Yes, we do realise that these symptoms are quite generic so, as per usual, the best way to go is to get your eyes checked.

Astigmatism is best diagnosed with an eye exam. A complete eye exam involves a series of tests to check your eye health and refraction, which determines how your eyes bend light. Your eye care professional may use various instruments, aim bright lights directly at your eyes and ask you to look through several lenses. All these tests are designed to map out your vision and help determine the prescription you may need to see clearly and comfortably. And because we want to be extra helpful, we’ve designed an online eye test that you can take for free at any time using this link.

See, with clarity

Astigmatism can be corrected in various ways, depending on your severity and treatment preference. The options are contact lenses, lens implants, LASIK and PRK, which are more invasive and carry a certain degree of risk as with all surgeries.

One of the quick solutions to correct most astigmatism is contact lenses. They are available in a variety of types and styles. Some people prefer contact lenses for astigmatism because they give you a wider field of vision.

However, one of the best solutions is actually to consider eyeglasses. Eyeglasses are made with lenses that help compensate for the uneven shape of your eye: they make the light bend into the eye properly so that you can see clearly. And of course, eyeglasses can also correct other common refractive conditions, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness.

For astigmatism, one excellent solution is aspheric lenses. These lenses are less convex, and less curved than traditional corrective lenses, making them much more aesthetic to wear. Lite AS by Nikon Lenswear is an advanced single-vision lens for sharp clear vision with limited peripheral distortion and very good aesthetics. The quality of corrected images is higher and peripheral vision is better with aspheric lenses compared to conventional lenses.

Near vision with Nikon glasses

Focus on your vision

While astigmatism is an eye condition that can’t be prevented- and for which you most probably can thank your family and genes – you’re far from doomed! Visual acuity and comfort are paramount. And remember that correcting astigmatism can be as simple as booking an appointment with one of our skilled Nikon Lenswear Partners to discuss the best corrective lens solutions for your needs.

1. Hashemi H, Fotouhi A, Yekta A, Pakzad R, Ostadimoghaddam H, Khabazkhoob M. Global and regional estimates of prevalence of refractive errors: Systematic review and meta-analysis. J Curr Ophthalmol. 2017 Sep 27;30(1):3-22. doi: 10.1016/j.joco.2017.08.009. PMID : 29564404; PMCID : PMC5859285.