Astigmatism sounds bad, but really it is just a type of blurry vision that is caused by the focussing parts of the eye (the cornea and the lens) not being perfectly round. Since the eye is a biological structure, it is common for some imperfection like this to be present. Subsequently, many people have some degree of astigmatism.
Along with nearsightedness and farsightedness, astigmatism is lumped into what are known as “refractive errors”. Refractive error means that the light entering the eye does not get focussed accurately onto the retina, and the result is blurry vision.
Astigmatism may occur together with nearsightedness or farsightedness, or may be present on it’s own. The blurry vision caused by astigmatism is usually easily rendered clear by the use of glasses, special “toric” contact lenses, or even laser eye surgery in some cases.
People with uncorrected astigmatism often complain of headaches and eyestrain when doing visually concentrated activities like long drives or computer work. They may note that the scenery looks pretty clear, but are unable to accurately read a road sign an appropriate distance away. People with uncorrected astigmatism may tire easily when doing visually concentrated tasks, and this can result in the inability to complete tasks and poor school performance.
Astigmatism is easy for your eye care professional to detect, measure and correct. If these symptoms are familiar to you, an eye exam is a good idea!
--Dr. Tim Styles, OD